Friday, May 20

Assassination of the Haitian president: several investigations but the vagueness continues

More than six months after the assassination by an armed commando of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, the arrests of suspects have multiplied in recent weeks in different countries, the motive for the crime and its sponsors remaining unknown.

But the investigation carried out in Port-au-Prince seems to have stalled, illustrating the serious dysfunctions of the country’s judicial system.

– Investigation in Florida –

Jovenel Moïse was shot on the night of July 6 to 7, 2021 in his private residence in Port-au-Prince, a commando composed of Colombians being suspected.

Since the beginning of the year, American justice has charged two men in Miami for their alleged role in this assassination.

A Colombian national, Mario Palacios is suspected of being one of five armed men who entered the room where the leader was killed.

He had been arrested on January 3 in Panama, during a stopover on a flight from Jamaica.

Rodolphe Jaar, a Haitian-Chilean citizen, was presented to him Thursday in a court in Miami, after his arrest in the Dominican Republic.

According to a document on file with the FBI, Mr. Jaar admitted during an interview in December to having provided arms and ammunition to the group of Colombians.

“The United States has a tool to prosecute people who have participated in conspiracies on American territory even if these conspiracies have been hatched for crimes committed outside American soil: it’s a good thing” , analyzes Marie-Rosy Auguste Ducena, lawyer at the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights in Haiti.

The Colombian mercenaries were indeed recruited by the CTU security company, based in Miami, and several meetings between the suspected persons took place in Florida before the deadly attack.

Me Philippe Larochelle, lawyer for the son of the late president, remains cautious in the face of these charges.

“In what form will they have to answer for their actions in the United States, it remains to be seen”, questions the representative of Joverlein Moïse. “We are in the early stages,” said the Montreal-based lawyer.

– Investigating judge criticized –

It only took a few hours for the Haitian police to arrest the twenty former Colombian soldiers and two Haitian-American citizens who would have composed the commando that assassinated the 53-year-old president.

Incarcerated in the prison of the Haitian capital, these Colombians have not yet been questioned by the investigating judge.

The decision of magistrate Garry Orélien to release, at the beginning of January, four Haitian police officers suspected of complicity has also caused confusion, Ms. Ducena going so far as to accuse the magistrate of “indulging in acts of corruption”.

The extradition request made by the Haitian authorities against a suspect arrested in Turkey in November has not yet been successful.

It is unclear whether such a move has been made against John Joel Joseph, a former opposition senator arrested last week in Jamaica for his alleged role in the president’s assassination.

– Multiple gray areas –

The attack against Jovenel Moïse, although unpopular and accused of authoritarian excesses, shocked the entire Haitian population and many questions remain unanswered.

How was an armed commando able to penetrate into the presidential chamber without being confronted with any resistance from the specialized units responsible for the security of the Head of State?

What role did Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a 63-year-old Haitian based in Florida and currently in prison, play after arriving in the country in June with the Colombian nationals?

Where is the former judge at the Court of Cassation Wendelle Coq Thélot hiding, suspected of being part of the plot and who is the subject of a wanted notice?

Why would the current Prime Minister Ariel Henry have spoken by telephone, the very day of the attack, with Joseph Félix Badio, one of the main suspects? When a prosecutor asked for his indictment, Mr Henry called the move a diversion, before firing the magistrate and appointing a new justice minister.

“Who paid for the assassination to be perpetrated? This is an aspect that should have been investigated by the judicial police,” said Marie-Rosy Auguste Ducena.

“The main officials and sponsors are still in the shadows”, laments for his part Me Philippe Larochelle. He believes that a special tribunal, like the one set up after the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, is “the only viable alternative” for his client, who only asks “to know who the responsible for his father’s death.

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