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Haiti court orders release of those accused in alleged coup

March 24, 2021 GMT
People protest to demand the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. The opposition is disputing the mandate of President Moise whose term they claim ended on Feb. 7, but the president and his supporters say his five-year term only expires in 2022. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
People protest to demand the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. The opposition is disputing the mandate of President Moise whose term they claim ended on Feb. 7, but the president and his supporters say his five-year term only expires in 2022. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
People protest to demand the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. The opposition is disputing the mandate of President Moise whose term they claim ended on Feb. 7, but the president and his supporters say his five-year term only expires in 2022. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A Haitian appeals court on Wednesday ordered the release of more than a dozen people accused of plotting a coup against embattled President Jovenel Moïse, a decision that opposition leaders celebrated.

Police in early February arrested people, including a judge and a police inspector general, for the alleged plot, a move that unleashed protests led by opposition leaders. The judge was detained despite having automatic immunity from prosecution, but he was released shortly after his arrest while the others in the group remained in jail.

Moïse alleged at the time that the group was trying to kill him and overthrow his government, an accusation that all those arrested have denied.

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André Michel, one of the opposition leaders who led protests, told The Associated Press that the court’s decision was announced during a public session Wednesday. He said the detainees had not been released by early afternoon.

Government spokespeople could not be immediately reached for comment.