Haiti president's widow among dozens indicted in his killing

General |Author: AFP | February 21, 2024, Wednesday @ 07:15| 2356 views

FILES) Prime Minister Ariel Henry (L) walks with First Lady Martine Moise as they leave the Catholic ceremony of funeral vigil for President Jovenel Moïse at Hotel Roi Christophe, in Cap-Haitien, July 22, 2021. The Haitian justice system has indicted some 50 people, including former First Lady Martine Moïse, as well as a former Prime Minister and a former police chief, for their alleged involvement in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, local media reported. (Photo by Valerie Baeriswyl / AFP)

A Haitian judge has indicted dozens of people over alleged involvement in the 2021 assassination of president Jovenel Moise, including his widow, a former prime minister and an ex-police chief, according to court documents seen by AFP.

Moise, 53, was gunned down in July 2021 at his private residence by a group of about 20 assailants, most of them Colombian mercenaries. His security detail did not intervene to protect him.

Since his death, Haiti has only spiraled deeper into chaos. No election has been held and Moise has not been succeeded as president.

An order believed to be from the judge investigating the assassination was leaked to media including AFP.

In it, the magistrate ordered the referral of Moise's widow, Martine Moise, and 50 other people to the criminal court "to be judged on the facts of criminal conspiracy, armed robbery, terrorism, assassination and complicity in assassination."

The document goes on to say that "indications of the involvement of the ex-first lady... are sufficient" to indict, adding that her statements were "so tainted by contradictions that they leave something to be desired and discredit her."

Martine Moise was also wounded in the deadly attack.

The 122-page report includes some of her graphic testimony, recounting how, as she was "losing a lot of blood" and left for dead on the floor of the couple's bedroom, she whispered to her husband that she would try to get medical aid, only to realize that he was already dead.

It listed some of the issues it said the judge had with her testimony, including her claim that at one point she tried to hide beneath the couple's bed. The report claimed that "as this piece of furniture is made, not even a giant rat ... measuring between 35 and 45 centimeters can get under it to hide."

Former interim prime minister Claude Joseph and ex-director general of the national police Leon Charles were also found to have "sufficient indications" of involvement in the killing, the document says.

The report did not clearly identify the masterminds of the assassination, nor who may have financed the killing.

- Widow's lawyer complains -

In a letter to the prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince, Martine Moise's lawyer Emmanuel Janty alleged that publishing the indictment on social media before officially notifying Moises of the charges against her was a violation of due process and called into question the veracity of the document.

The indictment is "devoid of the essential elements of legality and authenticity, namely the signature of the investigating judge and the seal of his office," Janty wrote in the letter dated Monday.

Earlier this month Joseph Vincent, a Haitian-American accused of participating in the assassination, was sentenced to life in prison in a US court.

The United States launched prosecutions against 11 people over their alleged involvement in Moise's killing, finding the cases fell within its jurisdiction because part of the assassination plot was hatched in Florida.

So far, it has sentenced four people to life in prison, including Vincent.

Haiti is in the midst of a severe political, humanitarian and security crisis, with gangs running rampant in large swaths of the country, and homicides more than doubling last year to nearly 4,800, according to a UN report released this month.

More than 1,100 people were killed, injured or kidnapped in January alone, making it the most violent month in the country in two years of conflict, the UN has said.

© Agence France-Presse


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