Jean-Claude Duvalier taken to Haiti hospital after falling ill

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 24, 2011 3:16 PM

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Haiti's former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, who faces charges of corruption and rights abuses after returning from exile in January, is being treated in a hospital after falling ill, aides said on Thursday.

Duvalier, 59, who ruled Haiti for 15 years after taking over in 1971 on the death of his widely feared father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, was taken to a private hospital in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince on Wednesday.

"He has several problems. He had a terrible stomach ache, he felt a pain in his thorax. He has been like that for several days," his lawyer Renaud Georges told Reuters.

"He remains in the hospital because that will allow him to have some rest and recover. But he will be fine," said another aide, former Haitian army Colonel Christophe Dardompre.

Duvalier has said he returned to Haiti on January 16 after 25 years exile in France to help his compatriots rebuild from the January 2010 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people in one of the world's poorest states.

He is under investigation on charges of corruption and crimes against humanity for killings and torture that occurred during his 15-year rule.

Duvalier is alleged to have embezzled between $300 million and $800 million of assets from Haiti during his presidency.

Switzerland's government announced last month it would start legal proceedings to confiscate his assets, frozen in the European country since 1986.

In a television interview given after his return, Duvalier rejected accusations that he was a tyrant and said he was the first person to introduce a democratic process in his troubled Caribbean homeland.

Haiti is waiting for the result due next week of a presidential run-off held on Sunday between Michel Martelly, a popular entertainer and singer, and Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady and a law professor.

(Reporting by Joseph Guyler Delva; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Vicki Allen)