Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Baby Doc Returns to Court

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Former Haitian Dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s trial continued Thursday, as another alleged victim testified about human rights abuses during his 15-year regime. Dr. Nicole Magloire said in court that she was unjustly arrested by the Tonton Macoutes, Duvalier’s infamous private police, and was imprisoned for five days. When asked by Defense Attorney Fritzo Canton if she could have been arrested by mistake, Magloire replied, “If I was arrested by mistake, I was imprisoned by mistake and forced into exile by mistake.”

Magloire was the third person this month to testify in appellate court against the former president-for-life, who inherited power from his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier at age 19. Now 61, the younger Duvalier was charged with human rights abuses and embezzlement in 2011 when he ended his 25-year exile and returned to Haiti. Though a lower Haitian court dismissed both charges, the appellate court is considering reinstituting the rights abuse charge.

Duvalier failed to make his first three court dates, and finally made a surprise appearance on February 28 in a room packed with those who claim they were tortured or imprisoned by his regime. The prosecutors aim to prove that violence perpetrated by Haitian officers under Duvalier’s command were not occasional or rogue acts, but part of a widespread and systematic campaign to terrorize Haitians, constituting “crimes against humanity.”

Tags: Baby Doc, Francois Duvalier, Haiti
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