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Haiti ex-president accused of crimes against humanity

Four people, including former UN spokesperson Michele Montas, filed criminal complaints on Wednesday against former Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Montas, who worked for the UN under Ban-Ki Moon, as well as Alix Fils-Aime and Claude and Nicole Magloire, allege that Duvalier committed crimes against humanity [HUP report, in French]. The four were allegedly imprisoned and subjected to torture [Le Nouvelliste report, in French] during Duvalier's presidency. Three of them were forced into exile. On Tuesday, Duvalier was briefly detained and charged [JURIST report] with corruption, embezzlement and a number of other crimes. Although Duvalier was officially charged, an anonymous Haitian government official told Reuters that they had not yet decided to prosecute [Reuters report]. Duvalier's lawyers have reacted to the complaints claiming their client in the target of government persecution. Duvalier returned suddenly to Haiti from exile in France this past Sunday and has expressed a desire to become president [Radio Kiskeya report, in French] of Haiti again.

Last February, the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland [official website, in French] announced that $4.6 million seized from Duvalier's Swiss bank account must be returned to his family [JURIST report]. The decision came after the Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland [official website, in French] rejected the family's claim to Duvalier's money, which was hidden in Swiss banks during his tenure as president. In 2007, Haitian president Rene Preval [BBC profile] vowed to continue legal proceedings [JURIST report] against Duvalier despite the latter's plea for forgiveness in a recorded message broadcast around the country. Duvalier, also known as "Baby Doc," is the son of former Haitian leader Francois Duvalier, or "Papa Doc," whom he succeeded as "president for life." In response to accusations of human rights violations, Duvalier fled Haiti in 1986, and has since resided in France.

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