PORT-AU-PRINCE: Jean-Claude Duvalier, the former president of Haiti, has died at the age of 63.
His attorney, Reynold George said Duvalier, who returned from exile in 2011, died at his home last Saturday from a heart attack.
Duvalier, known as “Baby Doc”, became the youngest leader in the world when in 1971, at the age of 19, he replaced his father, Francois Duvalier, a medical doctor, who died suddenly following an illness.
Duvalier, who was facing human rights related charges linked to his 15 years in power, spent his late years in relative obscurity at his home above the Haitian capital.
Duvalier married the daughter of a wealthy coffee merchant, Michele Bennett, in 1980. The wedding was a lavish affair, complete with imported champagne, flowers and fireworks.
Under Duvalier’s rule, Haiti saw widespread demographic changes. Peasants moved to the capital in search of work as factories popped up to meet the growing demand for cheap labour. But thousands of professionals fled a climate of repression for cities such as New York, Miami and Montreal.
However, corruption and human rights abuses defined Duvalier’s rule.
Following 25 years in exile in France, Duvalier returned in January 2011 and was briefly detained on charges of corruption, theft and misappropriation of funds.
A Haitian court ruled in February that Duvalier could be charged with crimes against humanity under international law, and that he could also be held responsible for abuses committed by the army and paramilitary forces under his rule.
Duvalier, who called himself “president for life”, consistently denied any responsibility for abuses committed while he was in office.