Luc Desyr, head of late President Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier’s secret police, was found guilty of murder and torture today and sentenced to death.
The sentence was announced at 4:20 a.m. at the end of an 18-hour trial at the Palais of Justice that was carried live on television.
The 12-man jury found Desyr, 61, who also served under deposed President Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, guilty without extenuating circumstances of illegal arrest, jailing, torture and murder.
The court of assize immediately sentenced Desyr to death. Execution in Haiti is generally by shooting.
During the trial, the court heard that during the 28 years they ruled Haiti, the Duvaliers used the dreaded secret police, called the Tonton Macoutes, to torture and intimidate opponents.
Desyr was jailed Feb. 25, after an angry mob at Port-au-Prince’s international airport stopped him from leaving the country three weeks after Jean-Claude Duvalier fled to exile in France.
Desyr was a close ally of the elder Duvalier and remained as chief of the secret police until 1980, when the son removed him for opposing his marriage to Michele Bennett, a divorcee.
A Protestant in this predominantly Roman Catholic country, Desyr habitually dressed in a black suit and hat and peppered his speeches with quotations from the Bible.
“I never gave orders to kill anyone,” Desyr told the court as spectators jeered. “I am a Christian, and I only spread goodness around me.”
More than 60,000 Haitians are estimated to have been killed during the Duvalier regime, and thousands more were forced to leave.