You’re a former dictator with hundreds of millions of dollars, stolen from your former countrymen, living a life of luxury in France. You get a hankering to do some travel. With all of the choices at your fingerprints, you choose to visit … the country you pillaged and then fled to keep the mobs from hanging you from the nearest light pole. What could go wrong?
Haiti on Tuesday filed embezzlement and corruption charges against former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who is accused of torturing thousands of Haitians and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars during his 15-year reign.
Haiti’s top prosecutor brought the charges against Duvalier in a day of high drama surrounding the ailing one-time despot, who stunned Haitians on Sunday when he stepped off an Air France flight at the international airport.
After a hearing that lasted more than five hours, complaints of corruption, misappropriation of public funds and criminal conspiracy were filed. The charges could be dismissed or sustained by a judge who will now investigate whether there’s sufficient evidence to go to trial. The process could take months.
Duvalier, 59, was picked up by police early Tuesday amid a flurry of activity at the posh Karibe Hotel in Pétionville, where he has been staying.
I guess Disney France must have been booked, eh? Well, now so is Duvalier:
No one still can quite figure out what Duvalier was thinking when he returned to Haiti this week. The Miami Herald describes him as “ailing,” and perhaps Duvalier figured he had little left to lose in a final attempt to return to power. He’s more likely to see the inside of a prison. US courts have held Duvalier responsible for absconding with $500 million from Haiti, and torture charges are also likely. In fact, with Duvalier in custody, Haiti’s courts may be overwhelmed with people looking to file charges and get justice for the brutal actions of Duvalier — those still left alive, that is.
Hopefully, Haiti can bring this dictator to justice, and heal its decades-long political wounds in the process. However, it may well be that, in the end, Haitians will also wish that Duvalier had better sense in his vacation planning.