San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Haiti’s ‘Baby Doc’ to face corruption trial?

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier should face trial for embezzlement during his 15-year rule, an investigating judge said Monday.

However, judge Jean Carves told AFP that the former dictator, known as “Baby Doc,” should not face charges for the time being for allegations of crimes against humanity.

The ex-dictator, who returned to Haiti in 2011 after 25 years of exile in France, will fight the corruption charges, his lawyer Frizto Canton said. He said Duvalier “has already been judged three times” on those charges in Haiti, France and Switzerland and cannot be retried for the same accusations.

Duvalier did not comment on the developments “for now,” a member of his entourage told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“I cannot react until I have received formal notice of the judge’s decision,” the source quoted Duvalier as saying.

Duvalier, 60, led a brutal dictatorship in the impoverished Caribbean nation from 1971 to 1986 before being driven out of office and the country. He is the son of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, who ruled Haiti from 1957 until he died in 1971.

The government estimates that more than $100 million were embezzled via social programs before the second Duvalier was deposed.

A year ago, Duvalier returned to the country he once ruled with an iron fist, pleading for national reconciliation as the country was reeling from a major political crisis sparked by disputed presidential elections.

Many feared at the time that “Baby Doc” was seeking a return to power by capitalizing on the political chaos stalking the Caribbean country, which had been devastated by a massive earthquake in 2010.

Duvalier is currently subject to a house-arrest agreement under which he is not allowed to leave the capital.

In May, the Swiss Finance Ministry said it had taken legal action to secure the confiscation of Duvalier’s frozen assets, with the aim of returning about $6.7 million to Haiti.

Last September, global rights watchdog Amnesty International called on Haitian authorities to try Duvalier for crimes committed during his time in power.

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