December 8, 1998
Haitian exiles want to take ``Baby Doc'' to court


                  PARIS (Reuters) -- Haitian exiles said on Tuesday they wanted to bring
                  Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier to trial for crimes against humanity, but
                  the former Caribbean dictator told his lawyer he found the threat amusing.

                  The lawyer, Sauveur Vaisse, said he spoke by telephone to Duvalier, 47,
                  who was "very amused" by the exiles' threat.

                  "He found this rather funny. He does not understand why they would want
                  him to carry the can for his father (Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier)," Vaisse
                  told Reuters.

                  French authorities said they had lost track of Duvalier, who has been
                  reported to be living in poverty after an extravagant exile on the French
                  Riviera. He fled his homeland in 1986 after an upsurge of popular protest.

                  Poet Gerard Bloncourt, the 72-year-old spokesman for a small group of
                  Haitian exiles, said they wanted "Baby Doc" to answer for what he alleged
                  were 60,000 assassinations under his 15-year rule and his father's 14-year
                  rule before him.

                  He said "Baby Doc" had had people tortured and executed in the basement
                  of his presidential palace in Port-au-Prince even on the eve of his flight into
                  exile to France in 1986.

                  The threat to seek prosecution of Duvalier coincided with ceremonies in
                  Paris to mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human

                  It also followed the arrest in Britain of former Chilean President Augusto
                  Pinochet who is wanted in Spain, France and several other European
                  countries over the disappearance of foreign nationals during his dictatorship.

                  French authorities said they did not know of any legal action against

                  The lawyer said Duvalier called him by portable telephone from an
                  undisclosed location. "I saw him 10 days ago and I'll be seeing him again
                  soon," he said.

                  French authorities said they had lost track of Duvalier.

                  Interior Ministry sources said they did not know whether he was in France
                  or had gone abroad, taking advantage of the Schengen agreement which has
                  lifted border controls between several European Union countries.

                  Bloncourt said he was reported to have been sighted a few days ago with
                  bodyguards on Paris' Champs Elysees avenue.

                  When he came to France, Duvalier lived in a hotel in the French Alps then
                  moved to the Riviera resort of Vallauris.

                  France turned down his request for political asylum status. He was under
                  house arrest for some time, then freed with an unspecific de facto asylum

                  He lived the high life in a plush villa, shopping at jewelers and vacationing at
                  ski resorts, then gradually ran out of money after his wife divorced him.

                  In the mid-1990s he fired his staff and quit his villa. A neighbor said she had
                  briefly employed him as a gardener.

                  Police sources said the last trace he left was an unpaid hotel bill in the
                  Riviera resort of Mougins in 1995.

                  But Vaisse denied his client was destitute.

                  "Living in France without work probably cost him a lot," he said."But I saw
                  him 10 days ago and he did not look like a tramp."

                  He would not say whether Duvalier was paying him fees.

                   Copyright 1998 Reuters.