Haiti charges ex-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier with corruption

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Port-au-Prince (Haiti), Jan 19(ANI): Authorities in Haiti have charged former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier with corruption, theft and misappropriation of funds, two days after he made an unexpected return to his homeland after 25 years in exile in France.

However, a judge must still decide whether the indictment can go forward.

The charges come after Duvalier spent over four hours of gruelling questioning at the chief prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince.

Duvalier has faced civil suits accusing him of diverting a total of 920 million dollars in public funds he is thought to have stashed in U.S., Swiss and French banks.

Human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, are also urging Haitian authorities to prosecute Duvalier for abuses committed during his 15-year rule, which ended with a popular uprising in 1986.

"If true justice is to be done in Haiti, the Haitian authorities need to open a criminal investigation into Duvalier's responsibility for the multitude of human rights abuses that were committed under his rule, including torture, arbitrary detentions, rape, enforced disappearances and extra judicial executions," the New York Times quoted the Amnesty International, as saying in a statement.

Duvalier, known as "Baby Doc", assumed power in 1971 at the age of 19, upon the death of his father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier.

The elder Duvalier was elected president in 1957 and later declared himself "president for life".

The father-and-son dynasty was long accused of using a special security force known as the Tonton Macoute to brutally repress opponents and dissidents.

Duvalier was forced to flee the country in 1986 when the mix of repression and social distress pushed Haiti to the brink of civil conflict.

The 59-year-old's return comes at a time of turmoil in Haiti.

The country is contending with November's disputed elections and last January's massive earthquake that ravaged the capital and killed over 200,000 people.(ANI)

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