Jovenel Moise Assassination: A Group of 28 Foreign Mercenaries Killed Haitian President, Police Say
According to Haitian police, a group of 28 foreign mercenaries, including retired Colombian soldiers, assassinated Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse earlier this week.
After a gun battle in the capital Port-au-Prince, 17 were detained, some at the house they were using, others after entering Taiwan’s diplomatic compound.
Three suspects were killed by police and eight are still being sought.
Bloodied and bruised, arrested suspects were shown to the media on July 8, along with a slew of seized weapons.
It is still unclear who organized the attack and with what motive.
Also unclear is who is in charge of the country. On July 9, a group of political parties added to that uncertainty by nominating a president, although how much legitimacy that has is unknown.
The attack took place in the early hours of July 7, when gunmen broke into the president’s home in Port-au-Prince, shooting him dead and wounding his wife. President Moïse, 53, was found lying on his back with 12 bullet wounds and a gouged eye, according to authorities.
First Lady Martine Moïse, 47, was seriously wounded and is in a stable condition after being flown to Florida for treatment.
Police said the hit squad included mainly Colombians, along with two Haitian-Americans.
Found in the suspects’ possession were firearms, sets of US dollar bills, Jovenel Moïse’s personal chequebook and the server that held surveillance camera footage from his home, Le Nouvelliste newspaper reported.
Taiwan confirmed that 11 of the suspects were arrested after breaking into a courtyard at its compound.
Jovenel Moise: Haiti President Assassinated at His Private Residence
Angry civilians had joined the search for the gunmen, and helped police track down some who were hiding in bushes. The crowd set fire to three of the suspects’ cars and destroyed evidence.
Police chief Léon Charles called for calm, saying the public should not take the law into their own hands.
At the news conference on July 8, police showed reporters Colombian passports.
Colombia’s government has pledged to assist Haiti with its investigation efforts.
Colombian police director, Gen. Jorge Luis Vargas, said 17 former Colombian soldiers were thought to be involved.
The US state department, meanwhile, said it could not confirm if any of its citizens had been detained.
However, US and Canadian media are reporting that one of the dual citizens arrested, James Solages, 35, is from Florida and was a former bodyguard at the Canadian embassy in Haiti.
An investigating judge told local media that James Solages and the other US citizen, named as Joseph Vincent, had said they were there as translators for the mercenaries, after finding the job on the internet.
“The mission was to arrest President Jovenel Moïse… and not to kill him,” Judge Clément Noël told Le Nouvelliste.
On July 9, the US said it was sending FBI and department of homeland security officials to Haiti following the nation’s request for help in the investigation.
Members of Jovenel Moïse’s security detail have been summoned before Haiti’s courts to answer questions about its failures.
Colombian daily El Tiempo said that it had seen confidential documents that named the Colombian suspects. The paper’s research suggests that four of them flew from Colombia to the Dominican Republic on June 4.
They crossed by land from there into Haiti two days later. The two countries share the island of Hispaniola.
According to El Tiempo, Colombian intelligence has seen photos posted on social media by members of the group, showing them posing at a popular tourist spot in the Dominican Republic.
The killing of President Moïse has triggered some civil unrest in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas.
A state of emergency remains in force across Haiti, while the Dominican Republic has closed its border.