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#2428: Haiti issues arrest warrants in Duvalier-era corruption cases (fwd)

From: A. =?iso-8859-1?Q?M=E9dard?= <amedard@gte.net>


Haiti issues arrest warrants in Duvalier-era corruption cases

 February 18, 2000
Web posted at: 3:48 PM EST (2048 GMT)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Haitian judicial authorities have issued
arrest warrants for some 20 people accused of corruption during the
ousted Duvalier dictatorship, although officials say most no longer live
in the country.

"It's a question of misappropriation of funds under the Duvaliers,"
Justice Minister Camille  Leblanc said Friday in an interview with the
private Radio Metropole.

In February 1986, a popular uprising forced dictator Jean-Claude
Duvalier into exile in France, bringing to an end to 29 years of terror
and corruption during which tens of thousands were killed and hundreds
of millions of dollars were stolen.

"Legal proceedings have never been stopped," and judicial authorities
decided to issue the warrants in December, Leblanc said.

"Most of them live abroad," he said, alluding to Finance and Economics
Minister Frantz Merceron and Duvalier's former in-laws, members of the
Bennett family.

Duvalier married Michelle Bennett in 1980. They divorced after his

Police arrested Duvalier's interior director, nightclub owner Jean
Sambour, on February 11 on charges of misappropriation of public funds
and corruption of public authorities, police spokesman Jean-Dady Simeon
said. Simeon denied rumors that police arrested other Duvalierists this

Duvalier's former father-in-law Ernst Bennett, 73, was arrested on
similar charges July 23, 1998. He has never been brought to trial. The
charges were dismissed, but a December order for  his release has not
been executed.

Human rights activists have denounced the detention without trial for
extended periods of some 60 prisoners in Haitian jails. Harold Hongju
Koh, U.S. assistant secretary of state, called for the release of those
"illegal" prisoners during his visit to Haiti earlier this month.

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.