Arrest warrant issued for Haiti ex-president

Supporters of former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide protest in front of the Palace of Justice on August 13, 2014 in Port au Prince (AFP Photo/Hector Retamal) (AFP)

Port-au-Prince (AFP) - Haiti issued an arrest warrant for former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide -- under investigation for corruption, money laundering, and drug trafficking -- after he failed to appear before a judge Wednesday, authorities said.

Answering a question on whether there was a warrant, Judge Lamarre Belizaire said "I believe so."

Aristide had been ordered to appear before the examining magistrate for questioning in an investigation involving illicit drug trafficking, embezzlement of public funds, abuse of authority and misappropriation, bribery and money laundering.

One of the former president's lawyers, Mario Joseph, told reporters no official subpoena had been served at his client's home, and that, as a result, Aristide couldn't come to the judge's office.

Around 30 people are being investigated under the probe, including some Aristide relatives and former officials from his tenure in office.

Aristide -- Haiti's first democratically elected leader -- was voted president twice, in 1990 and in 2000. However, his first mandate was interrupted between 1991 and 1994 by a coup that saw him take refuge in the United States.

When another coup ousted him in 2004, he left aboard a US Air Force plane into exile in South Africa, fleeing political turmoil. He returned to his homeland in March 2011.

Known as a champion of Haiti's poor and reviled by the elite, Aristide -- a former Roman Catholic priest -- is still popular in the impoverished country.