Speculation of Duvalier’s arrest mounts as police enter hotel

CNN reports that an arrest may be imminent. Follow the link below for video. One of our readers, Nadève Ménard, has just sent various links from Port-au-Prince, confirming that police and SWAT teams have surrounded the hotel. Many thanks to her. You can see her blog at http://www.tandenou2.blogspot.com/.

Police, a judge and a prosecutor entered the posh Port-au-Prince hotel Tuesday where former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier has been holed up since his surprise return home.

It’s still unclear why Duvalier returned from some 25 years in exile in France, but speculation mounted Tuesday that he may be arrested.

About 20 police went into the Karibe Hotel in the Petionville suburb Tuesday morning. Journalists were barred from entering.

At least one person said she is seeking criminal charges against the former ruler and human rights groups have sounded a call for justice.

Michele Montas, a Haitian journalist and a former spokeswoman for the United Nations secretary-general, said Monday night that she plans to file a criminal complaint against Duvalier.

“We have enough proof. There are enough people who can testify. And what I will do is go to a public prosecutor and there is a public prosecutor that could actually accommodate our complaints,” she told CNN’s “Parker Spitzer.”

Under Duvalier’s presidency, thousands were killed and tortured, and hundreds of thousands of Haitians fled into exile, according to Human Rights Watch.

Duvalier was supposed to have held a news conference Monday but it was canceled and so far, the former dictator has remained huddled inside the Karibe.

Henry Robert Sterlin, a Duvalier associate, told reporters that Duvalier returned because he was moved by the anniversary of last year’s tragic earthquake and because he missed his homeland.

“He’s deeply hurt in his soul after the earthquake. He wanted to come back to see how is the actual Haitian situation — of the people and of the country,” Sterlin said about Duvalier.

He said he did not know how long the former leader was planning to stay.

Duvalier’s arrival in Haiti coincides with an ongoing political crisis there, sparked by fraud allegations in a presidential election. A runoff vote, scheduled for January 16, was postponed after a contested first round.

His arrival brought calls for arrest from Montas and members of human rights groups.

“Duvalier’s return to Haiti should be for one purpose only: to face justice,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director of Human Rights Watch. “His time to be held accountable is long overdue.”

Amnesty International also said Duvalier should be brought to justice.

“The widespread and systematic human rights violations committed in Haiti during Duvalier’s rule amount to crimes against humanity,” said Javier Zuniga, special adviser at Amnesty International. “Haiti is under the obligation to prosecute him and anyone else responsible for such crimes.”

For the original report and video go to http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/americas/01/18/haiti.duvalier/index.html?hpt=T2

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