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Haiti officials renew passport for Duvalier

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 5, 2013 at 4:24 p.m.

— Haitian officials have renewed the diplomatic passport of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, his attorney said Saturday.

Lawyer Reynold Georges said the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reissued the expired travel document for Duvalier last month as is customary for ex-presidents and former prime ministers.

“They have to, because he’s an ex-president,” Georges said by telephone. “This is not something people should talk about. It’s common practice.”

Duvalier suddenly came back to Haiti in 2011 following 25 years in exile in France. Upon his return, Haitian authorities opened an investigation into the human rights abuses associated with his 15-year rule. But the judge instead recommended that Duvalier be indicted for only financial crimes, and faces no more than five years if convicted.

The case is currently slogging its way through an appeals process, and a hearing is scheduled for Jan. 24, Georges said. “I can guarantee you we will win,” Georges said.

Throughout the case, the 61-year-old Duvalier has been spotted driving himself and a longtime partner throughout Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, apparently in defiance of a house arrest that, Georges said, expired last year. The pair has also been widely seen dining at some of the more high-end restaurants in the country.

It doesn’t seem that Duvalier has made use of the travel document.

Georges said Duvalier was recently supposed to take a trip to Santo Domingo, the capital of the neighboring Dominican Republic, but wasn’t sure if it actually happened.

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