|Haitians try to stop ex-dictator from reclaiming frozen funds|
|Published on Wednesday, May 30, 2007||Email To Friend Print Version|
|GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP): Two Haitians on Tuesday lodged a bid in a Swiss court to prevent former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier from recovering some 7.6 million Swiss francs (4.6 million euros) from frozen bank accounts.
The money held in Swiss bank accounts had been blocked at the request of Haiti’s new government after Duvalier was toppled in 1986 but the podgy former dictator nicknamed "Baby Doc" could lay his hands on the money now due to a legal loophole.
"The Federal Council (government) should continue to freeze these funds and lift banking secrecy, so that victims of the regime can come forward and bring compensation cases," the Haitian pair’s lawyer, Marc Henzelin, told Swiss news agency ATS.
The legal challenge was lodged in a court in Geneva, he added.
Swiss law allows the government to freeze money, but only magistrates can order confiscation or seizure on legal grounds after full judicial proceedings.
Duvalier and his followers were accused by Haiti’s new government of siphoning off state funds.
But attempts to recover any funds have been hampered by chaos in the country and by the failure of Haitian authorities to supply standard judicial guarantees.
A senior legal official at the Swiss foreign ministry said last week that the Duvalier family was set to recover the assets on June 3 after the government’s freezing order reached its maximum legal limit.