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Twenty seven years after a US military cargo plane carried Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, his luxury cars, his wife and her furs, to safety after a popular uprising against his Haitian dictatorship, Baby Doc has finally appeared in a Haitian courtroom to answer for the murder and torture of thousands, and the theft of millions of dollars.

As I write, Baby Doc sits in a crowded courtroom, listening to Boby Duval, one of his victims, testify that he counted 180 prisoners murdered during his 17 months in prison.

Earlier today, Baby Doc himself answered questions from a three-judge panel.  Although only corruption charges are currently active against Duvalier, crimes against humanity allegations are under appeal, and the judges are also interrogating Baby Doc about those. If Baby Doc had skipped this proceeding, he would have faced arrest.

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Duvalier sat in a chair, facing the three black-robed judges, his seersucker-suited lawyer beside him at a table. Duvalier spoke softly in response to questions.  The court clerk wrote each answer and read it aloud, then handed the text to the judges.

The judges ask Duvalier about his control of government during his reign.  

"What is your response to the accusations of torture?"

"I took action to stop injustice," Duvalier responded, but did not give a single example.

I will update this story if the live twitter feed continues.

10:55 AM PT: Update --

Boby Duval's testimony about the 180 murders in prison was provided to the US Embassy, not in the open court hearing.

12:10 PM PT: As the hearing closed, the Judges' questions attempted to narrow Duvalier's escape route, while Baby Doc parried with platitudes.

His human rights record was "positive."

The political prisoners had been plotting his overthrow.

While Duvalier's testimony indicated he knew what was going on, he dodged responsibility for handling State funds.

1:56 PM PT: According to Wikipedia, Madame Max Adolphe, the sadistic and hated overseer of Papa Doc's most vicious prison, disappeared when Baby Doc was overthrown, and her whereabouts are unknown.  But today Madame Max was reported in the courtroom audience, within an arm's reach of some of her many victims.


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