Four suspects in Haiti leader's killing sent to US

By Rumi Samuel Published on February 01, 2023
Four suspects in Haiti leader's killing sent to US

Four men accused of having played a key role in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise have been transferred to the United States, where they will face charges.

President Moise was shot dead at his home in the Haitian capital on 7 July 2021 by what police described as a hit squad of mainly foreign mercenaries.

Three of the suspects are dual US-Haitian citizens, and one is Colombian.

They are due to appear in a federal court in Miami later on Wednesday. 

The investigation into President Moise's assassination in Haiti has stalled, with investigators and judges receiving death threats. But as the plan to kill Mr Moise was allegedly hatched by Haitian-Americans in Florida, investigations are proceeding in the US.

Transferring the four men from Haiti to Florida has brought the total number of suspects in US custody to seven.

Three who moved to the US have been charged with conspiracy to murder President Moise. The fourth, Christian Sanon, was accused of smuggling bullet-proof vests to Haiti for use in the plot.

Those charged with conspiracy to commit murder are:

James Solages, dual Haitian and US citizen, 37

Joseph Vincent, dual Haitian and US citizen, 57

Germán Alejandro Rivera, Colombian citizen, 44

Prosecutors allege that James Solages and Christian Sanon met in Florida in April 2021 to discuss "regime change" in Haiti. 

According to police in Haiti, Mr Sanon, a Haitian-American doctor and pastor, had "political objectives" to replace Mr Moise as president. 

Haiti's police chief at the time of President Moise's killing also said that Mr Sanon was the first person one of the assailants called as police surrounded them after the murder.

In a statement, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said that while Mr Sanon had not been charged with conspiracy to murder, he "participated in crimes that culminated in the assassination of the Haitian president".

According to the DoJ, James Solages, Joseph Vincent, and Germán Rivera had initially planned to kidnap President Moise and take him to an unknown location. At the same time, a new president was installed in his stead.

But when they failed to get a plane to take Mr Moise away, they allegedly changed their plan.

"It is alleged that on July 6, 2021, Solages, Vincent, Rivera, and others met at a house near President Moise's residence, where firearms and equipment were distributed, and Solages announced that the mission was to kill President Moise" the DoJ statement said. 

The other man, German Alejandro Rivera, is suspected of having recruited the Colombian mercenaries who made up the hit squad hired for the purpose.

All four men were arrested in Haiti shortly after President Moise's assassination and were held in the Caribbean nation until their transfer on Tuesday. 

If found guilty, Mr Sanon could face up to 20 years in jail, while the three other suspects could be sentenced to life in prison. 

The political void left by the killing has led to a surge in violence and lawlessness across Haiti.

Rumi Samuel

Rumi Samuel

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