FBI to join assassination investigation in Haiti

·3 min read
Colombian Armed Forces Commander Gen. Luis Fernando Navarro, centre, speaks to the media in Bogota on Friday about the arrest of 15 Colombians in connection with Haitian President Jovenel Moïse's assassination. (Ivan Valencia/The Associated Press - image credit)
Colombian Armed Forces Commander Gen. Luis Fernando Navarro, centre, speaks to the media in Bogota on Friday about the arrest of 15 Colombians in connection with Haitian President Jovenel Moïse's assassination. (Ivan Valencia/The Associated Press - image credit)

The United States announced it will send federal law enforcement officers to Haiti as soon as possible to help after the assassination of its president, the White House said on Friday.

Strengthening Haitian capacity for law enforcement remains a key U.S. priority, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. She noted that officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security will be involved in investigation efforts.

President Jovenel Moïse was shot dead by unidentified attackers at his private residence early Wednesday morning, according to a statement from the country's interim prime minister, Claude Joseph.

The 53-year-old president's wife, Martine Moïse, was also shot in the attack and was receiving medical treatment, Joseph said.

Jean Marc Hervé Abélard/The Associated Press
Jean Marc Hervé Abélard/The Associated Press

Seventeen suspects have been detained so far. Haitian authorities say two are believed to hold dual U.S.-Haitian citizenship, while 15 of the detainees are from Colombia.

Colombia's government said at least six suspects are former members of its army.

Colombians require a visa to enter Haiti.

Plan was to arrest, not kill: report

A judge investigating the assassination says the two Haitian-Americans arrested in the case were acting as translators for a larger group of attackers that originally planned to arrest and not kill the leader, Le Nouvelliste newspaper reported Friday.

Speaking to the French-language newspaper, Judge Clement Noel didn't elaborate on what grounds the group sought to arrest Moïse. Noel said one of the suspects, James Solages, told him he "found this job on the internet."

Solages had been in Haiti for only a month and the other U.S. citizen arrested, Joseph Vincent, for six months, Noel said.

A separate judge, Fidelito Dieudonne, said four of the 15 Colombians arrested in the case entered Haiti on June 6 after passing through the Dominican Republic.

Noel also told the newspaper that police confiscated weapons used by the attackers, including pistols, cartridges, the server of the surveillance camera at Moïse's home, a chequebook belonging to the president and his wife, axes, wire cutters, clothes, food, cellphones and cash.

International support required

Former governor general of Canada Michaëlle Jean, who was born in Haiti, says the investigation into the assassination will require international support because the country's national police service has been infiltrated by criminal organizations.

"I think the police itself, the national police itself, has been so much infiltrated by ... criminal organizations that it will take some help coming from an independent party, foreign support, to carry out this investigation," Jean told CBC News Network's Power & Politics Thursday.

WATCH | Michaëlle Jean says Haiti needs independent party to investigate assassination:

There seems to be little evidence at this point that the attackers faced much resistance from Moïse's security team — a detail Jean said warrants investigation.

"Who in the country was capable of sponsoring and organizing such a criminal operation? Who had enough influence actually to make sure that there would be no resistance from the security detail on the scene?" Jean asked host David Cochrane. "Because, indeed, nothing seemingly stood in their way."

Taiwan embassy break-in

Taiwan's foreign ministry says Haitian police have arrested 11 armed suspects who allegedly tried to break into its embassy in Port-au-Prince. It gave no details about the identities of the suspects or a reason for the break-in.

Joseph Odelyn/The Associated Press
Joseph Odelyn/The Associated Press

"As for whether the suspects were involved in the assassination of the president of Haiti, that will need to be investigated by the Haitian police," Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou said from Taipei.

Haiti is one of a handful of countries worldwide that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan instead of the rival mainland Chinese government in Beijing.

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