Haiti president now says no pardon for Duvalier

Jan 27, 2012, 11:33 PM

Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Haitian President Michel Martelly on Friday backed off a suggestion from an interview a day earlier that he might be open to a pardon for former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier. He said he meant only that he wanted an end to the internal conflict that has long afflicted his country.

Martelly, speaking in a radio interview in Dublin, said that “I never proposed to pardon” the dictator known as “Baby Doc,” who is under a judicial investigation for crimes committed during his brutal 15-year rule in the 1970s and 1980s. The judge is expected to rule soon on whether Duvalier will face trial on corruption and human rights charges.

A day earlier, The Associated Press interviewed Martelly on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and asked about the former dictator and the pending decision. The president suggested he had little appetite for a trial, saying reconciliation for his nation is more important than punishing Duvalier.

“My way of thinking is to create a situation where we rally everyone together and create peace and pardon people, to not forget about the past _ because we need to learn from it _ but to mainly think about the future,” he said.

Martelly added that any decision on a possible pardon would come only with “a consensus among all leaders, all political parties.”

In the Friday interview with Ireland’s Newstalk FM, Martelly was asked by the host why he would pardon Duvalier. The president said he was misunderstood by the AP.

“When I mentioned reconciliation it has nothing to do with Duvalier,” he said. “Duvalier is a case where only the justice (system) can decide on it.”

He said that years of often violent struggle among the various factions in Haitian society have left the country in shambles and that the conflict has to end for there to be any progress in Haiti.

“The problem is the Haitian people fighting among themselves. So I mentioned my will to reconcile the Haitian people, not pardon Duvalier,” he said.

After the AP interview was broadcast and published, Martelly presidential adviser Damian Merlo faulted its tone but not the content, saying in an email that he “just wish you would have focused on the positive aspects of the interview and not make such a big deal about Duvalier.”

Asked about the issue Friday, Merlo responded in an email from Dublin: “A Duvalier pardon is not part of the agenda.”

Duvalier has posed a challenge to Haiti since his surprise return home in 2011 after 25 years in exile.

The country has a weak judicial system, with little history of successfully prosecuting even simple crimes, and the government is preoccupied with reconstruction from the devastating January 2010 earthquake. A majority of Haitians are now too young to have lived under Duvalier but many still remember his government’s nightmarish prisons and violent special militia, known as the Tonton Macoute, which killed and tortured political opponents with impunity.

Human rights groups have faulted the Haitian government for appearing to delay a decision in the Duvalier case and many older Haitians and Martelly opponents have expressed alarm that his government includes several people who worked in the administration of the former dictator.

Duvalier’s lawyers have argued that the statute of limitations for the crimes alleged against the former leader has expired and say their client can’t be charged for alleged crimes committed while he held office.

Martelly traveled to Dublin on Friday to attend “Irish Haiti Week,” an event organized by the Irish charity Haven, which is trying to raise money for earthquake recovery efforts. He also met with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to discuss ways to build ties between Haiti and Ireland.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

8 days ago

Palestinians leave their homes following Israeli bombardment on Gaza City, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. (...

Associated Press

Israeli airstrikes crush apartments in Gaza refugee camp, as ground troops battle Hamas militants

A flurry of Israeli airstrikes Tuesday on a refugee camp near Gaza City leveled apartment buildings, leaving craters where they once stood.

29 days ago

Moroccan boys, Rayan and Ali walk amidst the rubble of their home which was damaged by the earthqua...

Associated Press

Powerful quake in Morocco kills more than 2,000 people and damages historic buildings in Marrakech

A powerful earthquake has struck Morocco, toppling buildings in villages and cities not built to withstand such force.

3 months ago

State Farm Stadium Gold Cup soccer arrests 2023...

Serena O'Sullivan

Police arrest five people after State Farm Stadium brawl on Thursday

Two people were arrested for a State Farm Stadium brawl after Thursday's soccer matches between Qatar and Honduras plus Mexico and Haiti.

5 months ago

Members of the Wagner Group military company load their tank onto a truck on a street. (AP Photo)...

Associated Press

Russia says Wagner Group’s leader will move to Belarus after his rebellious march challenged Putin

Russian leaders say the Wagner Group leader who staged a short-lived rebellion will move to Belarus and not face prosecution.

5 months ago

Associated Press

How (and when) to watch King Charles’ coronation in the US

There are plenty of options to watch the regalia-heavy event that serves as a formal confirmation of King Charles' dual role as head of state and titular leader of the Church of England.

7 months ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Follow @KTAR923...

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

Haiti president now says no pardon for Duvalier