Haiti on Tuesday filed embezzlement and corruption charges against former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, who is accused of torturing thousands of Haitians and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars during his 15-year reign.
Haiti's top prosecutor brought the charges against Duvalier in a day of high drama surrounding the ailing one-time despot, who stunned Haitians on Sunday when he stepped off an Air France flight at the international airport.
After a hearing that lasted more than five hours, complaints of corruption, misappropriation of public funds and criminal conspiracy were filed. The charges could be dismissed or sustained by a judge who will now investigate whether there's sufficient evidence to go to trial. The process could take months.
Duvalier, 59, was picked up by police early Tuesday amid a flurry of activity at the posh Karibe Hotel in Pétionville, where he has been staying.
Judge Gabriel Ambroise and Haitian attorney Reynold Georges arrived at the hotel about 10:30 a.m., as Haitian police officers were asked to secure the premises. A helicopter buzzed overhead.
Duvalier said nothing as police, guns in hand, escorted him out the back of the building. Scores of journalists trailed the convoy as he was transported to the courthouse.
Duvalier has been mum about his reasons for returning to Haiti, and neither prosecutors nor the minister of justice made public statements about the charges or what comes next.
In Washington, a State Department spokesman said the French government notified the United States about Duvalier's arrival in Haiti ``roughly an hour before'' he landed at Port-au-Prince's international airport.
``We don't believe at this point Haiti needs any more distractions,'' said spokesman P.J. Crowley.
``Our focus right now is to help Haiti through this delicate period, have a new government emerge that is credible enough and legitimate enough and viewed positively in the eyes of the Haitian people so that the country -- with international support, including the United States -- can move ahead with the ongoing efforts to rebuild Haiti.''
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