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Duvalier charged

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Duvalier charged

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Haiti’s former leader Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier has been charged with corruption and embezzlement during his 1971-1986 rule, prosecutors say. Duvalier was allowed to go free after questioning, but a judge will decide whether his case goes to trial.
The ex-leader, who denies wrongdoing, made a surprise return to Haiti on Sunday after 24 years in exile. He was regarded as a playboy during his time in office, when he used a brutal militia to control the country.
He said he had “come to help” after last year’s devastating earthquake.
Port-au-Prince’s chief prosecutor Aristidas Auguste said that charges of corruption, theft, misappropriation of funds and other alleged crimes had been brought against him.
There have been growing calls for Duvalier to be prosecuted for alleged torture and murder of thousands of people during his rule.
He is also thought to have embezzled millions of dollars from state coffers.
Duvalier is staying in a hotel in the hills above the centre of the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Early today Tuesday, he was visited by Haiti’s chief prosecutor and a judge, who questioned him over claims he stole from the country’s treasury.
He was led away from the hotel and taken to court.
Some onlookers are reported to have jeered as he left, while others cheered in a show of support.
US state department spokesman Philip Crowley described his return to Haiti as an addition to the country’s “ongoing burden”.
Mr Duvalier returned on the day Haiti was supposed to hold a second round of elections to choose a successor to outgoing President Rene Preval.
That vote has been postponed because of a dispute over which candidates should be on the ballot paper.
Provisional results from the first round on 28 November provoked violent demonstrations when they were announced, and most observers said there was widespread fraud and intimidation.
The UN secretary general’s spokesperson said Duvalier’s return had come as a “total surprise” to the organisation’s mission in the country, as it had to many others.
Martin Nesirky said it was a source of concern to see him resurfacing at a critical time for the stability of the country.
Duvalier was just 19 when he inherited the title of “president-for-life” from his father, the notorious Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, who had ruled Haiti since 1957.
Critics allege the younger Duvalier embezzled millions of dollars from the impoverished Caribbean nation, a charge he denies.
Like his father, he relied on a brutal private militia known as the Tontons Macoutes, which controlled Haiti through violence and intimidation. (BBC)