Haiti to scold 'Baby Doc' for defying house arrest

January 19, 2012 - 7:55 PM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The former Haitian dictator known as "Baby Doc" has been summoned to court Friday to be scolded for violating the terms of his house arrest by venturing outside the capital.

"Jean-Claude Duvalier needs to be in my office by 11:05 a.m.," Judge Carves Jean told the Associated Press at his courthouse office in downtown Port-au-Prince on Thursday. "If he's not, he'll be arrested by 11:10 a.m."

Duvalier's attorney argued that his client wasn't violating the law, because no such law exists. He also said he may file a complaint against the judge.

The law "is fantasy," lawyer Reynold Georges said by telephone. The judge "can do whatever he wants but he also has to pay the consequences. I'm a snake. I don't play."

Duvalier faces criminal charges that include embezzlement, torture and murder.

After making an unexpected return to his homeland last year, Duvalier was placed under house arrest, meaning he wasn't authorized to travel outside the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area without legal consent.

The former dictator, always dressed in a navy blue suit, has been seen traveling the country, often at the wheel of a SUV. He delivered a commencement speech to law school graduates at a university in the countryside last month and has been spotted lounging on the beach.

Duvalier attended a memorial service last week that marked the two-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake. The event was hosted by President Michel Martelly and guests included former Haitian President Prosper Avril and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the United Nations' special envoy to Haiti.

The prosecution of Duvalier has made little headway since it began last year and rights groups fear he will go unpunished.

Georges and the rest of the defense team argue there are no grounds to prosecute the former president because the statute of limitations on his alleged offenses has expired.

Advocacy groups such as Human Rights Watch contend the statute of limitations doesn't apply to cases involving crimes against humanity and missing persons.