Jovenel Moïse Assassination
Jovenel Moise, the president of Haiti, was assassinated in his home 07 July 2021. The interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said he was now leading the country. The assassination was carried out by a commando group with "foreign elements," according to Joseph, who was due to be replaced this week after three months on the job.
At around 1am on 07 July 2021, a group of unidentified people, including some speaking Spanish, attacked the private residence of the president, mortally wounding the head of state. The First Lady suffered bullet injuries and was in hospital, said a statement released by Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph’s office. Carl Henry Destin, deputy magistrate of Pétion-Ville, a commune located in Port-au-Prince, affirmed to Le Nouvelliste that the office and the bedroom of the president were ransacked. On his corpse, they observed twelve holes "made with large-caliber weapons and 9-millimeter projectiles". He said "We found him lying on his back, with his blue pants, his white shirt stained with blood, his mouth open, and his left eye perforated. We saw a bullet hole in the forehead, one in each nipple, three in the hip, and one in the abdomen".
The heavily armed commando unit that assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was composed of 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans, authorities said on 08 July 2021, as the hunt went on for the masterminds of the killing. Police Chief Charles Leon paraded 17 men before journalists at a news conference late, showing a number of Colombian passports, plus assault rifles, machetes, walkie-talkies and materials including bolt cutters and hammers. Three of the assailants were killed and eight remained on the run.
The second-highest level state of emergency was declared throughout Haiti after its president was assassinated, Haiti’s acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph announced. “We decided to declare the State of Siege [in] the whole country,” Joseph said in a televised address broadcast on national television following an emergency meeting of Haiti’s Council of Ministers. “We don’t want the country to plunge into chaos,” he added. A declaration of a state of siege is preceded only by a state of war. It involves a curfew, control over the media and civilian population, and closure of borders. Martial law is temporarily imposed and the army is deployed to aid police in maintaining law and order. It is scheduled to stay in place for 15 days, an order published in the nation’s official gazette on 07 July 2021 said.
On 09 July 2021, the Taiwanese embassy confirmed that eleven suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise were detained at its facilities in Port-au-Prince. The suspects had entered the embassy while fleeing Haitian police, who initially tried to chase them even into the Asian country's territory. Taiwanese diplomats immediately authorized the operation to demonstrate their nation's commitment to the Haitian people and to allow "the truth of the incident to be discovered as soon as possible".
Police on 14 July 2021 said they were searching for a former official, a former senator and a former businessman. Authorities believe they are "armed and dangerous." The former senator, John Joel Joseph, is a prominent politician who had previously criticized Moise's Tet Kale party. The former official, Joseph Felix Badio, has worked for the Justice Ministry and the government's Anti-Corruption Unit (ULCC). Following the announcement, ULCC said in a press statement that he had been fired in May over "serious breaches" of ethical rules. "This villainous act is an affront to our democracy,'' ULCC said. "The authors, co-authors, accomplices must be hunted down, investigated and punished with the utmost rigor." The third suspect, Rodolphe Jaar — also known as "Whiskey" — is a Haitian businessman who was previously indicted by US federal prosecutors for allegedly conspiring with others to distribute cocaine in the US.
A group of Haiti senators backed an agreement that would see Senate leader Joseph Lambert succeed the assassinated Jovenel Moise, with Ariel Henry named as new prime minister. Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph has ignored the move. "I'm not interested in a power struggle," Joseph told the Associated Press news agency. "There's only one way people can become president in Haiti. And that's through elections." Haiti's constitution states Moise should have been replaced by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but he died of COVID-19 recently.
Authorities in Haiti arrested a top official who served as general security coordinator when President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated, his attorney told The Associated Press on 27 July 2021. Jean Laguel Civil joined more than two dozen suspects arrested by Haiti National Police as the investigation continues into the July 7 attack at Moïse's private home. Civil's attorney, Reynold Georges, called his client's arrest politically motivated. It wasn't immediately clear if Civil had been charged with anything. Police were still looking for various suspects, including a former rebel leader and an ex-Haitian senator. Another suspect was Haiti Superior Court Judge Windelle Coq Thelot.
Haiti's top prosecutor said 14 September 2021 he was seeking charges against Prime Minister Ariel Henry over the assassination in July of President Jovenel Moise. The Port-au-Prince government commissioner, the equivalent of a federal prosecutor, asked the judge investigating the killing to charge Henry with involvement in the case due to alleged phone calls Henry made with one of the main suspects. "There are sufficient compromising elements that form (my) conviction on the appropriateness of prosecuting Mr. Henry and requesting his outright indictment," wrote Bed-Fort Claude, the commissioner, in an official letter addressed to a Port-au-Prince court.
Police are still actively searching for the former official, Joseph Felix Badio, who worked in the justice ministry's anti-corruption unit. Badio's phone was allegedly tracked to the area near Moise's residence when Badio called Henry twice in the early hours of July 7, after the president was assassinated. In his letter to the judge, Claude said the calls lasted a total of seven minutes. He also noted a government official tweeted last month Henry claimed he never spoke with Badio.
A prime minister legally cannot be questioned unless the president authorizes it, but in the wake of Moise's slaying, Haiti did not have a president. So far, 44 people -- including 18 Colombians and two Americans of Haitian descent -- had been arrested in connection with the inquiry into the assassination of Moise. None of the president's security guards were injured in the attack.
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