The United States will prosecute four people involved in the assassination of Haiti’s president

The United States will prosecute four people involved in the assassination of Haiti’s president

Four key convicts in the murder of Jovenel Moïse have been transferred to the United States. The Justice Department said on Tuesday that the men linked to the July 7, 2021 assassination of the president have been turned over to courts in Florida’s Southern District to face charges. The four parties involved will appear before an American judge for the first time on Wednesday afternoon. Washington already has a total of seven suspects in custody for the murder, which further exacerbated the violent and democratic crisis the Caribbean country was experiencing and failed to advance the local judicial processes of the alleged perpetrators.

The detainees who arrived on US soil this week are James Solages, 37, and Joseph Vincent, 57, who are both Haitian and US nationals; Colombian-German Alejandro Rivera García, 44, and Christian Sanon, 54. The first three are charged with organizing murder or kidnapping. They can be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty. Sanon is a religious preacher, doctor and businessman. He is considered a key figure in the conspiracy that led to Moïse’s death and is accused of smuggling goods. He faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years. The trial was supposed to start in March, but lawyers think the start will be delayed because the seven have to be charged at the same time.

Investigations show that Sanon imported 20 body armor from Florida to Haiti for his militia. They arrived on the island with labeled medical x-ray clothing and other school supplies. The Justice Department alleges that this figure, who had some social support, met with James Solages in South Florida in April 2021 to orchestrate a coup aimed at regime change. “After that meeting, Solages received a list of equipment and weapons needed for the operation, which she in turn provided to Sanon,” Washington said in a statement. That list included rifles, machine guns, tear gas bombs, hand grenades, ammunition and body armor that were exported without proper documentation (this will be one of the charges Solages will face in court).

A month after that meeting, in May 2021, Sanon started sourcing all items on the list. These would be needed to arm a private militia consisting mainly of about 20 Colombians with military training. Rivera García was the leader of this group of mercenaries commanded by Sanon, who had political motives and wanted to seize power after Moïse was deposed. A total of 18 Colombian nationals charged with the murder are in prison awaiting trial.

Two months before Moïse was killed, Joseph Vincent sent a message to Solages about a cat reacting fearfully to a shooting. This caused laughter from what is believed to be one of the murder masterminds. “This is the reaction Jovenel will have if you continue,” the prisoner wrote to Solages, according to the court document. The pastor replied: “The cat is not coming back… And believe me, brother, we have made the final decision.”

At the beginning of June, according to Justice, the plot had to deal with nuances. Solages, Vinvent and Rivera have been in touch to discuss the arrest of the 53-year-old president and his evacuation to an undisclosed location. But the conspirators didn’t get the airship, so the plan was changed again. The day before the assassination, the suspects met in a house next to the presidential residence. In this building, the weapons and equipment used to carry out the coup were distributed.

Knowing what was about to happen, Solages took it upon himself to spread the version that the CIA was preparing an operation to depose Moïse. Minutes before the murder, the defendant shouted that it was a maneuver by the DEA, Washington’s anti-drug agency.

The FBI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Miami Office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were the two agencies responsible for the investigation, reinforcing the allegations against the characters involved. The investigation allowed Haitian authorities to apprehend those involved, who were arrested in Haiti and later gave interviews to US agents and recounted their versions. In addition to those mentioned, the US has Rodolphe Jaar, a former Washington whistleblower extradited from the Dominican Republic, former Senator John Joël Joseph and Mario Antonio Palacios, another Colombian militiaman.

Very little has happened since then. The case has been moving slowly since Port-au-Prince judicial authorities appointed a judge, the fifth, to hear the case in 2022. The previous four were fired or retired for personal reasons. Some judges received death threats for taking the reins of a trial not far from justice.

Source: La Neta Neta