PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Deposed Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier died of a heart attack on Saturday, closing the book on a political dynasty notorious for human rights abuses and corruption in the poorest country in the Americas.
Duvalier’s death was confirmed by his lawyer, Reynold Georges. He was 63.
Duvalier inherited power from his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, aged just 19 in 1971, but fled into exile in 1986 during a popular uprising which ended 28 years of rule by the father-and-son dynasty.
After spending 25 years in France, Duvalier returned to his Caribbean homeland in January 2011 and was briefly detained on charges of corruption, theft and misappropriation of funds.
A Haitian court in February ruled that Duvalier could be charged with crimes against humanity under international law, and that he could also be held responsible for abuses by the army and paramilitary forces under his rule.
Duvalier consistently denied any responsibility for abuses committed while in office.
He was, however, a portly poster-child for wanton misrule, failing to address the poverty and illiteracy of Haitians while his family and friends indulged in a luxurious lifestyle.
Duvalier relied on terror to keep his people at heel in the style of his father, a former country doctor who enforced his rule through the dreaded Tonton Macoutes, a spooky paramilitary force of secret police agents sporting pistols and dark sun glasses.