‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier charged during visit to Haiti


The 59-year old Duvalier, known as “Baby Doc,” fled Haiti following a revolt in 1986 and had been residing in exile in France until his to Haiti last Sunday.

Duvalier was escorted to court under heavy police guard on Tuesday and questioned for several hours. Following the questioning, he was ordered to remain in Haiti at the disposition of judicial authorities.

“His fate is now in the hands of the investigating judge,” said Port-au-Prince Chief Prosecutor Aristidas Auguste. “We have brought charges against him.”

Under Haitian law, the charges must be investigated by the judge, who will decide whether a judicial case should proceed.

A number of human rights groups, including Amnesty International and American Watch, had called on Haitian authorities to arrest Duvalier, who had been staying at a luxury hotel since his return.

In 1971, Duvalier assumed the presidency of Haiti at age 19, after the death of his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Like his father, Jean-Claude ruled Haiti with an iron fist. The Tonton Macoutes, a secret police force loyal to the Duvalier family, have been accused of kidnapping, torturing and killing up to 30,000 suspected opponents during the 1960s and 1970s.

Duvalier’s return has sparked mixed reaction in Haiti. His supporters are excited by his return, but others are concerned Duvalier will complicate the nation’s already unstable political climate, with the presidential elections still not settled.

Haiti is waiting to hear what the next step will be following a review carried out by an expert mission from the Organization of American States (OAS). The mission has recommended that President René Préval’s handpicked candidate, Jude Celestin, be eliminated from the runoff.

Musician Michel Martelly had been eliminated based on the preliminary results, with former first lady Mirlande Manigat in the lead followed by Celestin. But the mission found that Manigat had 31.6 per cent of the vote, Martelly actually had 22.2 per cent and Celestin trailed with 21.9 per cent.

Second round presidential and parliamentary elections will not be held until at least next month.

Less than 48 hours after he made a surprise return to Haiti, former president Jean-Claude Duvalier was formally charged for corruption, theft and misappropriation of funds that were allegedly committed during his 15 year rule.

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