Haiti: Aristide is Questioned; Duvalier is Issued New Passport

Haiti: Aristide is Questioned; Duvalier is Issued New Passport

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Issue #1159, January 13, 2013

Port-au-Prince Government Commissioner Lucmane Délile, the chief prosecutor for Haiti’s capital, met with former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996, 2001-2004) for about 30 minutes on Jan. 9 to discuss criminal complaints accusing Aristide of theft, swindling and abuse of confidence.

The meeting took place in Aristide’s residence in Tabarre, a well-to-do neighborhood northeast of the capital. It was originally scheduled for the prosecutor’s office downtown, but Délile apparently decided to change the location when 1,000 or more Aristide supporters began protesting outside his office.

The complaints against Aristide, filed by individuals who say they were victims, charge that he benefited from a credit cooperative scheme that bankrupted thousands during his second term and that he exploited children in his Fanmi Selavi (“Family Is Life”) foundation by using them for fundraising. Both Délile and President Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) have denied that there are political motives behind the charges against Aristide.

Dieuseul Simon Desras, the president of the National Assembly, said in early January that the case looked like a political maneuver intended to distract attention from the country’s social and economic crisis and from political problems associated with Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) president Josué Pierre Louis, who is facing a rape accusation.

One of Aristide’s attorneys, Newton Saint-Juste, described the Jan. 9 meeting as “friendly”; the former president’s legal team also included human rights attorney Mario Joseph [see Update #1148] and Camille Leblanc. Afterwards Commissioner Délile said he was forwarding the case to an investigative judge, who will decide whether to proceed. (Haïti Libre (Haiti) 1/4/13; Radio Kiskeya (Haiti) 1/9/13; AlterPresse (Haiti) 1/9/13, Radio Métropole (Haiti) 1/10/13)

On Jan. 5 investigative judge Carvès Jean confirmed that the government had issued former “president for life” Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) Duvalier (1971-1986) a diplomatic passport. The judge ruled on Jan. 30, 2012 that Duvalier should face trial for corruption but not for the brutal crimes committed by his government [see Update #1121]. Duvalier could be sentenced to as many as five years in prison for allegedly embezzling $300 million to $800 million during his administration, but he is now free to leave the country. (Haïti Libre 1/5/13)

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