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Haiti ex-president Duvalier charged with theft, corruption

Former Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier [BBC Profile; JURIST news archive was charged Tuesday with corruption, theft, misappropriation of funds and other unnamed crimes. Duvalier underwent several hours of questioning, and, although he was released, he does not have the right to leave Haiti. Duvalier returned to Haiti [BBC report] from exile in France on Sunday, stating that he had come to offer assistance to help the country recover from last year's earthquake [JURIST news archive]. On Monday, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] called for Haitian authorities to prosecute [JURIST report] Duvalier for human rights violations committed during his time in office. AI claimed Duvalier and his regime committed acts of "systematic torture," including the disappearance or execution hundreds of human rights activists and other pro-democracy individuals at the hands of Haiti's armed forces and private militia, "tonton macoutes." There has been no comment from Haitian authorities as to whether Duvalier will eventually be charged on these allegations. Although Duvalier has been officially charged, an anonymous Haitian government official told Reuters that they had not yet decided to prosecute [Reuters report].

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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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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