While Duvalier Offers Assets to Haiti, Bob Barr is Dismissive about Crimes against Humanity

An attorney representing Jean-Claude Duvalier indicated that Duvalier wanted Swiss authorities to unfreeze millions of dollars held in his bank accounts to be given back to Haiti for rebuilding efforts. Meanwhile, former US congressman Bob Barr, who went with Duvalier to Port-au-Prince, dismisses crimes-against-humanity charges as “allegations [. . .] the cheapest commodity on the market.” Here are excerpts, with a link to the full articles below:

The request comes just one day after Duvalier made a major public speech in Port-au-Prince, asking forgiveness for the crimes against humanity committed during his 15-year rule between 1971 and 1986. “He doesn’t want the funds for himself,” Ed Marger, his American attorney, told CNN. “He wants a transparent entity to release the funds.” He named Ernest and Young and Deloitte as two possibilities and indicated that he was working with two other attorneys in Georgia to make the necessary arrangements.

In addition to his human rights crimes, Duvalier is accused of massive corruption that saw millions of dollars stolen from Haiti’s treasury. Charges were filed against Duvalier days after his surprise return from exile, although it has not been made clear yet what they entail. Many political analysts have warned Duvalier may be attempting to clear his reputation in an effort to return to Haitian politics.

Former US congressman Bob Barr, who went with Duvalier to Port-au-Prince, claims the former dictator “is very interested in trying to get those funds freed up, not for himself, but so they can be used to help the situation in Haiti.” Duvalier recently apologized to victims of abuses during his government and vowed to help the quake-ravaged nation rebuild, claiming that he was impressed by the welcome he had received, especially “from the crowd of young people who don’t know me.” But many of those people at the Montagne Noire neighborhood claimed that their presence was engineered: “We were paid 10 gourdes ($A25¢) to show up.”

Most of the fortune that Duvalier had upon leaving Haiti in 1986 is said to have gone—initially on high living but latterly on an expensive divorce—and he is back just as the international community is topping up the coffers with billions in earthquake aid.

A Swiss law set to take effect on February 1 may allow Haitian authorities to recover as much as $US7.3 million frozen in Duvalier’s accounts, said Jenny Piaget, a spokeswoman for the Swiss foreign affairs department.

When asked about the crimes against humanity charges, Mr. Barr, who is advising Duvalier but not representing him as a lawyer, said “allegations are the cheapest commodity on the market.”

For full articles, see http://www.theage.com.au/world/baby-doc-wants-to-use-swiss-money-to-help-haiti-20110123-1a168.html and http://feeds.bignewsnetwork.com/?sid=735092&ht=Duvalier-wants-frozen-assets-given-back-to-Haiti

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