Ex-dictator ‘Baby Doc’ arrested in Haiti hotel
Two days after returning to an astonished Haiti after almost 25 years in exile in France, former dictator Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier was taken into custody last night to face preliminary questioning about allegations of mass brutality and unfettered corruption during his 15 years of rule.
The latest act in the Duvalier drama began when the country's top prosecutor and its most senior judge arrived at the hotel where he had been hiding out since arriving on Sunday evening. Meanwhile scores of police took positions outside the hotel and a prison van parked across from its entrance.
Shortly afterwards, the ex-despot, who was just 19 when he assumed power as “president for life” from his father, Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier in 1971, was led out of the building and bundled into a waiting vehicle. He was not wearing handcuffs and when journalists asked if he was being arrested he remained silent, while his long-time companion, Veronique Roy, laughed at the question.
Reuters reported that Mr Duvalier had been taken into custody for additional discussions about the possibility of his being prosecuted for crimes committed when he was in power before he was driven to exile in France by a popular uprising in 1986.
“Mr Duvalier is under the control of the judicial system. He's not free, he's going to my office,” said chief prosecutor Aristidas Auguste.
Human rights groups insist Haiti should try him for crimes committed under his and his father's regimes. According to Human Rights Watch, the father-son duo ordered the deaths of between 20,000 and 30,000 civilians while they bled money from the state.
“Official torture and murder were commonplace under both father and son,” it said.
“He will be questioned and he will remain at the disposal of the judicial system,” a government official said. “They will determine whether to prosecute him.”
While some outside the hotel booed Baby Doc as he was led out, others cheered and chased the vehicle as it carried him away.