Haitian ex-dictator Duvalier misses court date

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 08 2013 07:47 AM | Updated as of Feb 08 2013 03:47 PM

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, wanted for corruption, misappropriation and embezzlement, failed to show up in court as scheduled on Thursday.

A crowd of about a hundred supporters and critics meanwhile took the streets in downtown Port-au-Prince.

Duvalier, former president for life of the impoverished Caribbean nation, was kicked out of power on February 7, 1986 after nearly 30 years of dictatorship inherited from his father, the late "Papa Doc" Francois Duvalier.

Duvalier's lawyers went to court in his place and handed the judge a letter explaining his absence.

The contents of the letter were not disclosed, but one of the defense attorneys said it was "reckless" for the judge to summon Duvalier on February 7, exactly 27 years to the day since his ouster.

"This date carries far too much bitterness, resentment and emotion from either side. It is seriously reckless to ask Mr. Duvalier to appear before the court on a February 7," said Frizto Canton, one of the ex-strongman's lawyers.

The lawyer, who asked the judge to set a new court date, rejected the allegations against his client, calling them "complete rubbish."

"Duvalier has already been tried in France, Haiti and Switzerland. He cannot be tried another time," the attorney added.

A judge has recommended that Duvalier only face charges for financial crimes and not for alleged human rights abuses.

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