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Dictator: Mr Duvalier, who ruled Haiti with brutality and corruption for nearly 15 years, died today of a heart attack at his home near Port-au-Prince
Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier, the country's self-proclaimed 'president for life', died today of a heart attack.
Mr Duvalier ruled the impoverished Caribbean country with brutality and corruption for nearly 15 years before being overthrown in 1986, when he went into exile in France.
His attorney Reynold George said the 63-year-old former leader died at his home in the hills above Port-au-Prince.
He had lived in the country since 2011, when he returned declaring that he would help in the reconstruction of Haiti - whose cities were heavily damaged in an earthquake the year before.
Jean-Claude was the son of Francois Duvalier, known as Papa Doc, a medical doctor-turned-dictator who ruled the country from 1957 to 1971.
Papa Doc promoted 'Noirisme', a movement that sought to highlight Haiti's African roots over its European ones while uniting the black majority against a mulatto elite in a country divided by class and colour.
Baby Doc was a 19-year-old chubby playboy when he ‘inherited’ the country - one of the world's poorest - from his despotic father after he died suddenly of an illness in 1971.
Francois Duvalier practised voodoo and used his sinister secret civilian militia - the machete-wielding Tonton Macoute - to murder thousands and terrorise the population.
His son continued the oppressive regime and hundreds of political opponents were either executed or simply disappeared.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch estimated that up to 30,000 Haitians were killed, many by execution, under the regime of the two Duvaliers, which lasted nearly three decades.
But there were some improvements for the people of Haiti under the younger Duvalier. Echoes of press freedom and personal criticism, never tolerated under his father, emerged - sporadically - because of international pressure.
Still, human rights groups documented abuses and political persecution. A trio of prisons known as the 'Triangle of Death', which included the much-feared Fort Dimanche for long-term inmates, symbolized the brutality of his regime.
As president, he married the daughter of a wealthy coffee merchant, Michele Bennett, in 1980.
The wedding was a lavish affair, complete with imported champagne, flowers and fireworks. The ceremony, reported to have cost $5 million, was carried live on television to the impoverished nation.
Duvalier and his wife Michele had two children, son Francois Nicolas 'Nico' Duvalier and a daughter, Anya.
Under Duvalier's rule, Haiti saw widespread demographic changes. Peasants moved to the capital in search of work as factories popped up to meet the growing demand for cheap labor. Thousands of professionals fled a climate of repression for cities such as New York, Miami and Montreal.
Lavish: As president, Duvalier married the daughter of a wealth coffee merchant, Michele Bennett, in 1980. Their ceremony, reported to have cost $5million, was carried on live television to the impoverished nation
And aid began to flow from the United States and agencies such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The tourists followed, some in search of a form of tropical hedonism that included booze, prostitution and Voodoo ceremonies for which the country became legendary.
Tourism collapsed in the early 1980s after Florida doctors noted that an unusual number of AIDS cases were coming from Haitian emigres, even though the disease was believed to have been brought from the U.S.
But it was corruption and human rights abuses that defined Duvalier rule.
Young leader: Baby Doc, pictured left in 1980, was a 19-year-old playboy when he ‘inherited’ the country from his despotic father after he died suddenly in 1971. He kept order with a brutal secretive police
The National Palace became known for opulent parties as Michele took overseas shopping sprees to decorate and collect fur coats. Duvalier relished taking his presidential yacht out for a spin and racing about in sports cars.
Under mounting pressure from the administration of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Duvalier made pretenses of improving the country's human rights record by releasing political prisoners.
Still, journalists and activists were jailed or exiled. Haitians without visas or money left by boarding flimsy boats in a desperate effort to reach Florida shores.
Corrupt: As Haiti's living conditions deteriorated under the rule of Jean-Claude Duvalier, Pope John-Paul II made a visit in 1983 and famously declared: 'Things must change'. Above, Duvalier, his wife and the Pope
As Haiti's living conditions deteriorated, Pope John-Paul II made a visit in 1983 and famously declared: 'Things must change'.
Three years later, they did.
Facing accusations of corruption, torture and other human rights abuses, Duvalier fled to Paris in 1986 following mass protests, the desertion of the Tonton Macoute and pressure from the U.S.
The couple divorced in 1993. Duvalier later became involved with Veronique Roy, who accompanied him on his 2011 return to Haiti.
In the wake of the younger Duvalier's ousting, the country turned on his security forces, slaughtering them by the thousands.
Opulent: The National Palace became known for opulent parties as Michele took overseas shopping sprees to decorate and collect fur coats. Duvalier, pictured, elished taking his presidential yacht out for a spin
His departure ushered in a period of halting democracy that has continued with tumultuous elections.
While in exile in France, Mr Duvalier spoke often about returning to Haiti, telling reporters over the years that he wanted to return to the Caribbean country. Supporters periodically marched on his behalf in the Haitian capital.
In 2007 Rene Preval, Haiti’s former president, said Duvalier could return to the country to face justice for the deaths of thousands and the theft of millions of dollars, supposedly hidden in Swiss bank accounts.
Four years later, a somewhat frail-looking Mr Duvalier returned to the country, declaring that he had returned to help in the reconstruction of Haiti, whose capital and outlying cities were heavily damaged in a magnitude-7.0 earthquake the year before.
Return: In 2011, a somewhat frail-looking Mr Duvalier returned to the country, declaring that he had returned to help in the reconstruction of Haiti, whose capital and outlying cities were heavily damaged in an earthquake
But many suspected he came back in an effort to reclaim money he had allegedly stashed. Others said he merely wanted to die in his homeland.
The move was met with widespread anger. Human rights groups demanded his arrest - demanding the Haitian government charge him with crimes against humanity and for stealing millions of dollars from the nation.
More than 20 victims of his rule stepped forward to file charges that ranged from false imprisonment to torture.
Human Rights Watch issued a report saying that Duvalier may not have directly participated in the torture and killings under his regime, but that there was enough evidence to prosecute him.
Under fire: In February 2013, following his return to Haiti in 2011, Jean-Claude appeared in court for a hearing to determine if he could be charged with crimes against humanity. He testified about his rule in front of a judge
But there were also those who heralded his return, seeing him as the only man who could solve their current problems. Old political allies rallied around him. As he touched down in Port-au-Prince, around 200 supporters were there to greet his arrival on January 16.
Despite the occasional stay in the hospital, Duvalier seemed to enjoy his new life back home and was free to roam the capital.
He was spotted attending government ceremonies, dining with friends in several high-end restaurants and avoided jail time. In 2013 he began renovating an old house that Roy said had been destroyed in the wake of his 1986 ouster.
Low-key: The once-feared leader spent his final years in relative obscurity, living in the leafy hills above the Haitian capital. Above, Duvalier attends the funeral of former Haitian President Leslie Manigat in July
The efforts to prosecute him stumbled along. Duvalier stunned human rights observers and alleged victims of his regime in 2013 when he testified about his rule before an investigating judge.
A year later, a judge overturned an earlier court decision and ruled that Duvalier could face crimes against humanity charges. But in the end the case stalled because officials did little to move it along.
The once-feared leader spent his final years in relative obscurity, living in the leafy hills above the Haitian capital.