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Posted Saturday, September 29 2007
Duvalier could face justice, says Haiti extreme violence--issued President Preval
By Alexandra Olson, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - Haiti's president said Friday that former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier would have to face justice for his regime's corruption and abuses if he returns to the Caribbean country from exile.

Duvalier, whose rule came to an abrupt end in February 1986 when he fled during a popular uprising, ended years of silence over the weekend with a Haitian radio address in which he apologized for "wrongs" committed under his rule. He did not say whether he would return to Haiti, but his unexpected address came amid a quiet campaign by some of his hardcore supporters to bring him back from in France.

President Rene Preval, who earlier this week rejected Duvalier's apology, said he could not prevent the former dictator from returning because Haiti's constitution prohibits the forced exile of any citizen.

Asked if Duvalier would be brought to trial, Preval said his "dictatorship killed thousands of people" and stole millions of dollars.

"There is also the clamor of the people ... I think justice has to have its say," Preval told a news conference in New York, where he was attending the U.N. General Assembly.

Earlier this week, Preval said his government was preparing a case to recover $6.3 million in Duvalier-linked Swiss bank accounts. Many Haitians believe the money was stolen from public funds. Duvalier has denied illegally taking money.

Named president for life at 19 following the death of his father in 1971, "Baby Doc" now reportedly supports himself with handouts from friends. An estimated 60,000 people were killed during the 29-year father-and-son dictatorship, while many others were maimed by the dictatorship or forced into exile.

Preval also said he saw no reason to restore the Haitian army that was disbanded in 1995 by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the president toppled in a 2004 uprising. An 8,800-member U.N. force has provided the only real security in the impoverished Caribbean nation since Aristide's ouster.

In July, the government said it would study the creation of a security force to one day replace the U.N. peacekeepers, and that a special commission named by Preval would decide whether it should take the form of a reconstituted army or a supporting unit of Haiti's outgunned police.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

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