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Haiti funds to remain blocked

The Swiss cabinet says it will continue a freeze on the assets of former Haitian dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier in Swiss accounts.

The announcement on Wednesday came after Switzerland’s Federal Court refused to return around $5.7 million (SFr6 million) in embezzled funds to Haiti. It turned down a bid from the Federal Justice Office, dating back to February 2009, to have the money returned to benefit the country’s population.

“In view of the criminal origin of these funds, [the government] in this way avoids releasing the approximately $5.7 million for the benefit of the Duvalier clan, which the Federal Criminal Court deems to be a criminal organisation,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It added that the move was in line with government policy “to avoid allowing the Swiss financial centre to become a haven for illicitly acquired assets”.

The government said it had instructed the foreign ministry to complete by the end of this month work on drafting a federal law that would allow such assets to be confiscated.

The family of Duvalier had appealed against a federal penal court decision to unfreeze the assets and give them to authorities in Haiti.

Duvalier assets in Switzerland have been frozen since the dictator’s overthrow in 1986. No legal proceedings have been launched against the Duvalier family in Haiti. and agencies

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