Haiti’s chief prosecutor has asked a judge to indict Prime Minister Ariel Henry in the murder of the president and asked other officials to ban him from leaving the country
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti’s chief prosecutor on Tuesday asked a judge to indict Prime Minister Ariel Henry in the murder of the president and asked authorities to ban him from leaving the country, a decision which could further destabilize a country that seemed to be calming down after the unrest following the assassination and a recent major earthquake.
The order filed by the prosecutor of Port-au-Prince Bed-Ford Claude arrived the same day he had asked Henry to meet him and explain why a key suspect in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse had him called twice just a few hours after the murder.
“There are enough compromising elements (…) to prosecute Henry and seek his indictment outright,” Claude wrote in the order.
A spokesperson for Henry could not immediately be reached for comment.
Claude said the calls were made at 4:03 a.m. and 4:20 a.m. on July 7, adding that evidence shows the suspect, Joseph Badio, was near Moses’ home at the time.
In the two-page document, Claude said the calls lasted a total of seven minutes and that Henry was at the Montana Hotel in Port-au-Prince at the time. He also noted that a government official tweeted last month that Henry told him he had never spoken with Badio.
On Monday, Justice Minister Rockefeller Vincent ordered Haiti’s national police chief to strengthen Claude’s security because the prosecutor had received “significant and disturbing” threats in the past five days.
The case judge, Garry Orelien, is required to investigate Claude’s claim and has three months to determine whether the facts of the case warrant action. He would then issue an order dictating what happens to the case, said Brian Concannon, advisor to the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.
Robert Fatton, an expert on Haitian politics at the University of Virginia, said there is clearly a struggle in government between Henry and those who supported Moses.
“We have a very confusing situation, a power struggle right now, and we’ll see who wins it,” he said. “We don’t know where we are going, and we don’t know what the international community thinks about everything.”
In recent days, the Office of Citizen Protection, similar to Haiti’s ombudsman, announced that it had made the “objective and courageous” decision to demand that Henry step down and called on the international community to stop supporting him.
Henry did not specifically address the issue in public, although in a meeting with politicians and civil society leaders on Saturday he said he was determined to help stabilize Haiti.
“Rest assured that no distractions, no summons or invitations, no maneuvers, no threats, no rearguard combat, no aggression will distract me from my mission,” said Henry. “The real culprits, the intellectual authors and co-author and sponsor of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse will be found and brought to justice and punished for their crimes. “
Moïse had appointed Henry prime minister shortly before he was killed at his private home in an attack which also seriously injured his wife, Martine Moïse.
More than 40 suspects have been arrested in this case, including 18 former Colombian soldiers. Authorities are still looking for additional suspects, including Badio and a former Haitian senator.
The investigation continues despite court clerks going into hiding after saying they were threatened with death if they did not change some names and statements in their reports.
In addition, a Haitian judge responsible for overseeing the investigation resigned last month for personal reasons. He left after the death of one of his assistants under unclear circumstances. A new judge has been appointed.