By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) -- Haiti’s former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide has been prohibited from leaving the Caribbean country as relevant judicial authorities resumed a criminal inquiry into cases of corruption, misappropriation of public funds and drug trafficking blamed on Aristide during his presidency between 2001 and 2004, HCNN learned on Wednesday.
Aristide and several dozen of his former allies have been accused of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from the state treasury through his ‘Aristide for Democracy Foundation’, other bogus enterprises and organizations, and through a government-controlled bank, the Popular Bank of Haiti (BPH), sources say.
Some 31 of his former allies have also been banned from leaving the country, according to a ruling issued by investigating judge Lamarre Belizaire.
Immigration officials on Wednesday confirmed the information for HCNN. A first list of 31 people was sent to immigration authorities over the past 48 hours and a shorter list of people banned from traveling, which includes Aristide, was sent on Wednesday.
Those suspects and persons of interest have been summoned to appear before judge Belizaire during several hearing sessions scheduled for Thursday and the coming days and weeks, judicial sources told HCNN.
Judge Belizaire has refused any comment on the case for "legal and ethical reasons".
Efforts to reach Aristide and his political party’s spokesperson for comment Wednesday afternoon were unsuccessful.
A new anti-corruption law, -- pushed by Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and promulgated by President Michel Martelly -- was passed earlier this year to toughen punitive measures against those in the public administration and others found guilty of corrupt practices.
However, the current cases against Aristide and his allies were initiated in 2005, while Martelly was inaugurated in 2011.