Haitian President Michel Martelly says he won't interfere in the case of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, the National Palace said Friday.
The office of the president issued a statement saying he respects the rule of law and has no right to meddle in the affairs of an independent judiciary that's overseeing the case of the former ruler known by his nickname "Baby Doc."
As evidence of the government's "commitment" to following the law, the statement cites Martelly's request for international legal experts to help strengthen Haiti's judicial system.
The announcement comes five days after a magistrate recommended that Duvalier face trial for alleged financial crimes, but not for the human rights abuses associated with his brutal regime.
Coming after a yearlong investigation, the ruling prompted human rights groups to accuse the judge of disregarding testimony and laws that would have enabled prosecution on the more serious crimes. Some activists also complain that many of the new government's officials have personal or family ties to the Duvalier regime that ruled from 1971 until it was overthrown in 1986.
Duvalier was only 19 when he assumed the presidency from his more ruthless father, Francois "Papa Doc." The younger Duvalier suddenly moved back to Haiti last year after 25 years in exile in France. Upon his return, the former "president for life" was charged with embezzlement, human rights abuses and other crimes.
His defense attorneys contend that the statute of limitations against the alleged crimes has expired, a matter disputed by international rights advocates.
The Duvalier case is now expected to go before the attorney general, who must review the judge's order and decide whether the case should go to a court that handles lesser crimes.