Jean-Claude Duvalier, archival articles published in The New York Times.

Jean-Claude Duvalier

News about Jean-Claude Duvalier, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times.

Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as Baby Doc, is a former dictator of Haiti. Mr. Duvalier ruled with brutality and corruption for nearly 15 years before being overthrown in 1986.

He is the son of François Duvalier, known as Papa Doc, a much feared dictator of Haiti from 1957 to 1971. The younger Mr. Duvalier took power, when he was just 19, following the death of his father. In all, the Duvalier dynasty lasted about three decades and was marked by the family’s harsh repression of its opponents, with the help of a special police unit called the Tontons Macoute.

Mr. Duvalier went into exile in France in 1986. In the wake of his ouster, the country turned on his security forces, slaughtering them by the dozens and even desecrating François Duvalier’s mausoleum. His departure ushered in a period of halting democracy that has continued with tumultuous elections.

Mr. Duvalier long flirted with returning, telling reporters over the years that he would like to go home. In 2007, René Préval, the former president of Haiti, said Mr. Duvalier could return but would face justice for the money the government said he had looted from the treasury, as well as for the deaths and torture of political opponents at the hands of the secret police.

In January 2011, Mr. Duvalier returned to Haiti, saying he had come only to help his country, not to get involved in politics.

Angry reactions poured in from around the world, with human rights groups demanding that the Haitian government charge Mr. Duvalier with crimes against humanity — including the kidnapping, torture and murder of thousands of his opponents — and with stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the nation, the poorest in the hemisphere.

On the streets, there were signs that Mr. Duvalier’s arrival had started a new cycle of polarization that has crippled the country for decades. Some decried Mr. Duvalier as a vestige of one of the darkest chapters in the country’s history, while others waxed nostalgic about him as the only hope for change in Haiti.

On Jan. 18, Haitian prosecutors charged Mr. Duvalier with corruption and embezzlement, and he was taken into police custody. He was released hours later, but was ordered to remain in Haiti while a judge considered whether there was sufficient evidence to send Mr. Duvalier to trial.

He has faced threats of prosecution in the past for the many human rights abuses committed during his rule, and for the hundreds of millions of dollars government officials have said he looted from the country.

Financial Motive?

Mr. Duvalier’s risky return home from France may have been driven by another motivation: money.

Though Mr. Duvalier has long been accused of looting $300 million before fleeing, his lawyers and friends have said that much of his money was squandered on a lavish lifestyle of jewelry, chateaus, fancy cars and a very expensive divorce from his ex-wife.

But about $4 million still sits frozen in an account in Switzerland, and Mr. Duvalier has publicly vowed to make every effort to get it. Haitian officials, human rights advocates and political analysts believe that Mr. Duvalier came back to the country for the sole purpose of making an end run around a new law that will make it harder for him to do that.