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US charges four people in connection with assassination of Haiti’s president

WASHINGTON — Three Haitian-Americans and a Colombian national have been charged in the United States with involvement in the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The announcement of the federal government’s charges – more than 18 months after the murder of Mr. Moïse – described a sprawling plot to assassinate the Haitian leader and seize power, backed by an unnamed former justice of the Haitian Supreme Court, Colombian mercenaries and an illegal transport of weapons from the United States.

The decision to charge the four men, believed to be some of the ringleaders in the assassination plot, in the United States is an indication of the chronic dysfunction of the Haitian justice system. Government institutions disintegrated after the assassination of Mr. Moïse, and conditions in the country have worsened in recent months.

Three of the four men have been charged with conspiracy in the murder of Mr. Moïse: James Solages and Joseph Vincent, who have dual Haitian American citizenship, and Germán Alejandro Rivera García, a Colombian accused of leading a group of mercenaries operating in Haiti.

Another Haitian American dual citizen, Dr. Christian Emmanuel Sanon, was charged with smuggling-related charges.

Three other men had already been charged in the United States in connection with the assassination plot. Whether other powerful political and business figures in Haiti — including some senior officials in the current government — conspired in the plot remains a central issue in the case.

The four newly charged men are due to appear in court in Miami for the first time on Wednesday afternoon, after being transferred to the United States on Tuesday. They were arrested in Haiti shortly after Mr. Moïse’s assassination and have been detained there ever since.

Haitian authorities had said at the time of Dr. Sanon’s arrest that they believed he wanted to seize power as president. But he was not charged with conspiracy to commit murder, as the other three men had been.

Mr. Solages and Dr. Sanon had met in April 2021, the Justice Department said, “to discuss regime change in Haiti and support for Sanon, an aspiring Haitian political candidate.”

After the meeting, the department added, the two men were given a list of equipment needed for the ‘regime change operation’, including rifles, machine guns, tear gas, grenades, ammunition and vests. bulletproof.

The Justice Department said Dr. Sanon then conspired with others in June 2021 to ship body armor from South Florida to Haiti for use by a group of 20 Colombian mercenaries, led by Mr. García, “who were recruited to help with the operation and provide security for Sanon.

Later in June 2021, the complaints allege that “support for replacing President Moïse shifted to a former Haitian Supreme Court justice” who provided cover for a plot to arrest and imprison Mr. Moïse, signing a document that “purported to grant immunity in Haiti to those who participated in the operation.

On July 6, 2021, the day before the assassination, the plan had changed, according to the Ministry of Justice: Mr. Solages announced to Mr. Vincent, Mr. García and other conspirators that they were going to kill Mr. Moïse .

Mr. Solages, Mr. Vincent and Mr. García face life imprisonment if convicted. Dr. Sanon faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Maria Abi Habib contributed reporting from Mexico City.

nytimes Gt

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