Haitians arrested for alleged hyperlinks to masterminds homicide: NPR
Four days after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, soldiers stand guard near the residence of Interim President Claude Joseph in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Sunday. Matias Delacroix / AP Hide caption
Matias Delacroix / AP
Matias Delacroix / AP
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The chief of Haiti’s national police announced on Sunday that officials had arrested a Haitian who is accused of being flown into the country on a private jet and with the masterminds and alleged assassins behind the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse to have worked together.
Police chief Léon Charles identified the suspect as Christian Emmanuel Sanon without giving any details, even though he apparently lived in Florida. The boss also gave no information about the alleged masterminds.
Charles said the alleged killers were protecting Sanon as the alleged president of Haiti, adding that officials found several items in his home, including a hat with the U.S. Drug Administration logo, 20 boxes of bullets, gun parts and four Car license plates from the Dominican Republic, two cars and correspondence with unknown people.
“We’re still making progress,” said Charles of police efforts to clear up the brazen attack on Moïse’s private home early Wednesday that killed the president and seriously injured his wife Martine Moïse, who was flown to Miami and continues to be hospitalized becomes.
Charles said a total of 26 Colombians are suspected of murdering the president. Eighteen of them were arrested along with three Haitians. He said five of the suspects were still at large and at least three were killed.
“They are dangerous individuals,” he said. “I speak command, specialized command.”
The chief said police are working with senior Colombian officials to investigate details of the alleged conspiracy, including the time the suspects left Colombia and who paid for their tickets.
Charles said Sanon was in contact with a company that provides security for politicians and recruited the suspects, adding that the suspect flew with them to Haiti in early June. The men’s original mission was to protect Sanon, but later they received a new one: arrest the president, the boss said.
“The operation started from there,” he said, adding that the group was joined by another 22 suspects and that contacts were made with Haitian citizens.
Charles said that after Moïse’s death, one of the suspects called Sanon, who then contacted two people believed to be the intellectual initiators of the conspiracy. He did not identify the masterminds or say whether the police knew who they were.
The chief said the Haitian authorities received the information from interrogations and other parts of the investigation.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Sanon had a lawyer.
Sanon has lived in Florida, Broward County, and Hillsborough Counties on the Gulf Coast. Records show that he also lived in Kansas City, Missouri. In 2013 he filed for bankruptcy and pretended to be a doctor in a YouTube video entitled “Leadership for Haiti”.
In the video, he denounces Haiti’s leaders as corrupt and accuses them of robbing the country of its resources, saying that “they don’t care about the land, they don’t care about the people”.
He claims Haiti has uranium, oil and other resources that have been confiscated by government officials. “When I’m in power you have to tell me, ‘What are you doing with my uranium? What are you doing with the oil we have in the country? What are you doing with the gold? ‘”
He added, “This is a resource country. Nine million people cannot live in poverty when we have so many resources in the country. It is impossible. … The world has to stop doing what it is doing right now. We can’t take it anymore. We need new leadership that will change the way of life. “
The arrest of Sanon was not announced until hours after hundreds of Haitians sought solace in prayer at early Sunday services as a political power struggle threatened to further destabilize their fragile country.
Roman Catholic and Protestant church leaders asked for silence and urged people to stay strong as fears for the future mounted, with authorities failing to provide answers or theories about who was responsible for the killing by a group of armed men in the house early Wednesday the president had staged. Martine Moïse, the president’s wife, was critically injured and transported to Miami for treatment.
“In the face of this situation, we will not be discouraged … you must stay and fight for peace,” said Father Edwine Sainte-Louis during a sermon on television that featured a small picture of Moïse with a banner that read “Haiti will remember you. “
Prosecutors have asked to meet senior politicians such as presidential candidate Reginald Boulos and former Haitian Senate President Youri Latortue for questioning while the investigation continues. Authorities also said they intend to interview at least two members of Moïse’s security department.
Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph is currently running Haiti with the help of the police and the military, but he is facing increasing challenges to his power.
Ariel Henry, who Moïse appointed prime minister the day before he was assassinated, said he believed he was the rightful prime minister, a claim also supported by a group of MPs who are members of Moïse’s Tet Kale party. This group also supports Joseph Lambert, chairman of the defunct Senate of Haiti, as the country’s interim president.
Haiti, a country of more than 11 million people, currently has only 10 elected officials after failing to hold parliamentary elections, prompting Moïse to rule by decree for more than a year until his death.
While the streets were quiet on Sunday, government officials worry about the future and have requested US and UN military aid.
“We still believe there is a way to create chaos,” Haitian election minister Mathias Pierre told the Associated Press.
Pentagon chief spokesman John Kirby told Fox News Sunday that the Pentagon is analyzing the request to send troops to Haiti and that no decisions have been made. He said a team made up mostly of agents from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI was “now” traveling to Haiti to help investigate the attack.
“I think this is really where our energies are best used right now to help them investigate this incident and find out who is guilty, who is responsible and how best to hold them accountable” said Kirby.
The United Nations has been in action in Haiti time and again since 1990. The last UN peacekeeping mission arrived in 2004 and all military peacekeepers left the country in 2017. But a stabilization group stayed behind to train the national police force and assist the government in strengthening judicial and legal institutions and overseeing human rights. This mission ended in 2019 and was replaced by a political mission led by an American diplomat, Helen La Lime.
In addition to normalizing the country, the UN peacekeeping force played an important role after a devastating earthquake in 2010 that killed up to 300,000 people and after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. But UN forces from Nepal are widely blamed for the accidental introduction of cholera, which has afflicted more than 800,000 people and killed more than 9,000 people since 2010. Some troops have also been implicated in sexual abuse, including starving young children.
Laurent Dubois, Haiti expert and professor at Duke University, said questions about Moïse’s murder could go unanswered for a long time.
“There are so many potential players that could be behind this,” he said, adding that the political strength of Pierre, the interim prime minister, is an open question. “There will be a scramble for positions of power. This is a major concern.”
In Port-au-Prince, resident Fritz Destin welcomed the sermon of a priest who urged people not to be discouraged.
“The country needs a lot of prayers,” he said. “The violence makes life a little unsafe.”