Former Haiti President Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier has died of a heart attack in the capital Port-au-Prince at the age of 63, official sources say.
Jean-Claude Duvalier was just 19 when in 1971 he inherited the title of “president-for-life” from his father, the notorious Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier.
Baby Doc was accused of corruption, human rights abuses and repression in his rule, which ended in a 1986 uprising.
After years of exile in France, Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti in 2011.
His death was announced by Haiti’s health minister, and the ex-leader’s attorney Reynold Georges confirmed he died at home on Saturday, October 4.
At the time of his swearing in, Jean-Claude Duvalier was the youngest president in the world.
Initially it seemed that there could be a significant move away from his father’s harsh regime, underpinned as it was by Haiti’s notorious secret police, the Tontons Macoutes.
Jean-Claude Duvalier moved closer to the Americans, from whom his father had been estranged. US businesses moved in and he allowed limited press freedom.
However, he lived lavishly. His state-sponsored wedding reportedly cost $5 million in 1980, while most of the people in his ravaged nation endured the worst poverty in the Western hemisphere.
Repression continued, too, and amid massive unrest in 1986 he fled to France.
Human rights groups say thousands of political prisoners were tortured or killed under Jean-Claude Duvalier’s rule, and he was accused of massive corruption.
He described his return to Haiti – a year after it was devastated by a major earthquake, as a gesture of solidarity to the nation.
Jean-Claude Duvalier was arrested and charged, and although released he finally appeared in court in February 2013, where in an emotionally-charged hearing in front of some of his alleged victims, he denied responsibility for abuses carried out during his time as president.
Judges ruled Jean-Claude Duvalier could face crimes against humanity charges, but the case had stalled some time before he died.
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