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Court backs return to Haiti of Duvalier funds

A Swiss court has supported a plan to return the assets of former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, frozen in Swiss bank accounts, for aid projects in Haiti.

The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona rejected an appeal by the Duvalier family, which had wanted to reclaim the money, totalling SFr7 million ($6.55 million).

It now has ten days to consider lodging an appeal with Switzerland’s highest tribunal, the Federal Court in Lausanne.

In its ruling, the court said the Duvalier family had failed to prove that the money, blocked since 2002, was of legitimate origin.

It added that the Duvalier family had diverted public funds into the Swiss accounts through a Liechtenstein foundation which was tantamount to a “criminal organisation”.

In July, the Federal Criminal Court ruled that assets belonging to the late dictator of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko, in Swiss banks should be released.

The Swiss Prosecutor’s Office declared Mobutu’s heirs should receive a total of SFr7.7 million since the statute of limitations had run out in the case.

Switzerland’s ambassador to what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo said the country had “never supported” Bern in trying to repatriate the assets of its former dictator. and agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR