DOJ charges its first suspect in the assassination of the Haitian president
The Justice Ministry on Tuesday indicted a former Colombian military officer with involvement in the plot to kill former Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, marking the first US prosecution stemming from the assassination of Moïse in July.
Mario Antonio Palacios, 43, was accused with conspiracy to assassinate or kidnap Moses, as well as knowingly “providing material support” which resulted in the death of Moses, charges which could lead to a maximum sentence of life in prison if found guilty, according to a press release released by the DOJ on Tuesday.
According to the DOJ, Palacios is among around 20 people, including Colombian citizens and dual Haitian-American nationality, who plotted to kidnap or kill Moses, many of whom were arrested by Haitian authorities, although Palacios was the alone to face American charges. .
Attorneys Claim Palacios admitted to U.S. law enforcement that he was hired to help capture the president and entered Moses’ compound on the night of the murder, aware that the group’s plan had gone from being kidnapping to an assassination, although its alleged exact role in the event remains unclear.
Prosecutors say Palacios fled to Jamaica after the July 7 assassination before being deported and ultimately agreed to travel to the United States.
Palacios is being held in the United States and his lawyer told the New York Time his client would most likely plead not guilty at his next preliminary hearing (his lawyer replied to Forbes‘request for comment).
“I don’t know who killed the President of Haiti”, Palacios Recount colombian magazine Semana in August. Palacios said Moses was already dead when he entered the room where the president was shot, and until then he believed the plan was only to kidnap him.
Moïse, 53, was shot dead by 12 bullets at his home in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on July 7 at around 1 a.m. according to to the Haitian authorities. His wife Martine Moïse was also shot dead but survived the attack, which she said was carried out by Spanish-speaking attackers. Four of the suspects were kill by Haitian police and two others were arrested shortly after the assassination. Although the motive for the assassination remains unclear, officials believe those involved in the attack were searching Moïse’s home for documents containing a list of Haitian politicians and businessmen involved in the attack. drug trafficking in the country. Advisors responsible for drafting the list Recount the Time Moses planned to give it to the US government. Moses’ wife Recount the Time she remembers intruders rummaging through her husband’s files after killing him. Before his assassination, Moses aimed to rewrite Haiti’s constitution and include a provision that would give the president immunity for any action taken during his tenure. The assassination sparked political unrest and led to a short-lived power struggle for the control of the Haitian government. In the past year, the country has faced a magnitude of 7.2 earthquake and the great notoriety removal of 17 American and Canadian missionaries by a Haitian gang.
Palacios and other Colombian Army officers worked for a Florida-based private security company that was initially responsible for protect the dignitaries in Haiti, the Time reported, citing Haitian officials and family members. Haitian authorities Also Claim a Florida-based financier helped pay the security company’s fees. The financier and security company executives have not been charged with any crimes, and their lawyers told the Time they are innocent.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry Survived an assassination attempt on Saturday during an event in which he had planned to speak, leaving one dead and two others injured.