Haiti ex-dictator 'Baby Doc' ill after hearing: source

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier fell ill after a court hearing last week and may miss the next hearing in a probe into allegations of torture and graft, a supporter said Monday.

A source close to "Baby Doc" Duvalier told AFP that last Thursday's court hearing had been a "bruising encounter" for the 61-year-old former strongman, and that he had been admitted to hospital for tests shortly afterwards.

Duvalier is due to attend court again on Thursday as a Haitian judge decides whether he can face charges of having committed crimes against humanity during his iron-fisted 1971 to 1986 reign over the Caribbean island nation.

But the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, indicated that this may now be in doubt. "If he is discharged by his doctor, he will put himself at the disposal of the court," he said, alluding to the possibility he won't attend.

The former dictator spoke very softly at last week's hearing, and appeared to have lost weight. His supporters said he is has cervical osteoarthritis, a degeneration of the spinal column in the neck area.

Duvalier succeeded Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier in 1971 aged only 19, but he continued to rule the poorest country in the Americas in his father's brutal style until he was ousted in a popular revolt in 1986.

He fled to exile in France, only to return a quarter-of-a-century later and take up residence in a well-to-do Port-au-Prince district, where he is often to be seen driving himself around in a luxury SUV.

Layers representing human rights groups, alleged victims of torture and relatives of opponents who were killed under his rule have attempted to bring charges of crimes against humanity, murder and corruption.

A court initially ruled that the most serious of the charges were protected by a statute of limitations, but the plaintiffs have appealed that decision and a judge is holding a series of hearings before ruling on their claim.

Duvalier initially ignored calls to attend the case, but was order by the judge to attend a rowdy hearing last week, a measure which was celebrated by the plaintiffs as a positive sign for their campaign.

Separately, another former Haitian president, Rene Preval -- in office between 1995 and 2001 and between 2006 and 2011 -- was ordered to appear at an upcoming hearing as a witness in an investigation into a journalist's murder.