Duvalier's fate up to Haitian government, U.S. says

The return of former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier to Haiti adds to its burdens, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday, saying his fate is up to Haiti's government and people to decide.

"Having a former dictator return to Haiti just adds to Haiti's ongoing burden," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters when asked about Duvalier's return and his subsequent detention by Haitian police.

Armed police escorted Duvalier, 59, from the luxury hotel in Port-au-Prince where he had been staying since his surprise return on Sunday to his poor, earthquake-battered Caribbean homeland after 25 years in exile in France. Officers put him in a police SUV with tinted windows which drove away.

The former ruler, who is accused by human rights groups of being responsible for the killing and torture of opponents during his 15 years in power, was being taken to the office of the Port-au-Prince chief prosecutor, officials said.

"What happens at this point forward is a matter for the people of Haiti ... This is their concern, not ours," Crowley added. Asked if he feared action against Duvalier could further inflame the situation, Crowley replied: "Of course. The fact that he arrives in the middle of a very difficult and delicate situation ... this is one more complication in an already challenging situation."

[Source: Reuters, Washington, 18Jan11]

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