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February 04, 2010

Swiss Court Orders Charities to Give Back Ex-Haiti Dictator's Millions

Switzerland's highest court has ruled that at least $4.6-million from Swiss bank accounts belonging to Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, which had previously been awarded to charities, must be returned to the former Haitian dictator's family, the Associated Press reports.

In a verdict reached January 12 -- hours before the Haiti earthquake struck -- the Federal Court in Geneva reversed a lower-court ruling that the money should go to aid groups in the impoverished Caribbean nation, ruling that the statute of limitations on any crimes committed by the Duvalier regime had run out. Mr. Duvalier, who was ousted in 1986 and now lives in exile in France, has been accused of stealing millions of dollars in public funds during his reign.

The ruling cannot be appealed, but the Swiss government issued an emergency decree freezing the funds pending passage of a law allowing it to be donated to relief organizations.

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