PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Haitian police took ex-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier to a courthouse in downtown Port-au-Prince early Tuesday afternoon after he was taken into custody -- though the charges remain unknown.
The former despot known as "Baby Doc'' was picked up by heavily-armed police at the posh Karibe Hotel in Petionville. He did not say anything as he was escorted through the back of the hotel but his companion laughed when asked if Duvalier was being arrested.
A person familiar with the case said that Duvalier had been arrested.
Haitian attorney Gervais Charles, who has represented Duvalier in the past, called the arrest "a scandal.''
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, and a helicopter could be heard buzzing overhead.
On Monday, Duvalier was receiving visits from the secret police that once terrorized the country and fueling fears that his return will deepen a political crisis from disputed presidential elections.
The visit caused foreign governments to scramble. Canada and the United States denounced his return, with Canada releasing a terse statement referring to Duvalier as a "dictator.''
Meanwhile, the French denied suggestions that it was complicit in his arrival from France, where he has lived since he fled into exile amid a popular revolt 25 years ago.
``This was no plot. We did not know he was coming,'' French Ambassador Didier Le-Bret said, adding that he only learned about Duvalier's intended visit after he boarded an Air France flight from Guadeloupe.
He immediately notified Haiti's foreign affairs minister and prime minister, he said. ``He's not a focal point of the French government,'' Le-Bret said. ``He's a simple French citizen, he's allowed to do what he wants to do.''
The Obama administration expressed concern and worry that Duvalier's sudden appearance could have ``an unpredictable impact'' on Haiti's delicate political state.
Haiti's government, meanwhile, sought to downplay Duvalier's presence and its impact on the country as it wrestles with who will replace President René Préval as he nears the end of his five-year presidential term.
The government announced that a controversial report on the presidential elections will officially be handed over to the Provisional Electoral Council, which will determine which candidates among the three front-runners should advance to a runoff.
Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, said Monday that he ``had no opinion'' on Duvalier's visit. Instead, he sought to downplay the impact of the OAS election report, which suggests that popular singer Michel ``Sweet Micky'' Martelly replace government-backed candidate Jude Celestin in the runoff.
The report, Insulza said, is based on ``calculations'' and not results.
``It's not in our power to give results,'' he told The Miami Herald. ``We are not publishing any kind of results.''
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