|"Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier, who is to face trial for corruption." (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)|
Reuters dispatch in The Guardian, January 31, 2012
"Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier will face trial for corruption but not for human rights abuses, the judge handling the case said on Monday. A 20-page ruling on the charges was delivered to the government prosecutor's office on Monday, Carves Jean, the judge responsible for investigating the case, told Reuters. It does not include charges for the murders, disappearances, torture and other rights abuses allegedly committed during Duvalier's 15-year rule. 'I did not find enough legal grounds to keep human rights charges and crimes against humanity against him,' he said. 'Now my job is over. The case is no longer in my hands.' Duvalier would face up to five years in prison if convicted of corruption. No trial date has yet been set. Duvalier inherited power from his father, François 'Papa Doc' Duvalier in 1971 and ruled Haiti until he was overthrown in 1986. Under the father-and-son dictatorship, thousands of people were murdered, or tortured in jails, such as the dreaded Fort Dimanche.
Duvalier, now 60, made a surprise return to his earthquake-stricken homeland in January last year after nearly 25 years in exile in France, opening himself up to possible prosecution. Although the ruling is a setback for human rights victims and advocates, it marks a victory for those seeking punishment for Duvalier's alleged crimes who had feared that the judge would drop all charges. It would also appear to quash any hopes of a political comeback by the former dictator -- at least for the time being -- as his lawyers battle with the legal challenge. One of his lawyers said Duvalier would appeal the decision to send him to trial. Duvalier is also alleged to have embezzled between $300m (£191m) and $800m of assets during his presidency. The Swiss government has sought to confiscate assets valued at 5.8m Swiss francs (£4m). It wants to return the funds to Haiti, which is the poorest country in the Americas and is struggling to recover from an earthquake in 2010 that killed more than 200,000 people. [...]"