Haiti president’s widow charged in assassination plot

Haiti president’s widow charged in assassination plot

Former first lady ordered hit in order to seize power herself, investigation concludes

Former Haitian first lady Martine Moise speaks during an interview with Reuters about her husband's assassination, at an undisclosed location on Aug 30, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)
Former Haitian first lady Martine Moise speaks during an interview with Reuters about her husband's assassination, at an undisclosed location on Aug 30, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)

PORT-AU-PRINCE - The Haitian judge in charge of the investigation into the 2021 assassination of the Caribbean nation’s last president has charged some fifty people, including his widow and a former prime minister, according to a document leaked to local media.

According to the 122-page document from Judge Walther Wesser Voltaire, made public by AyiboPost, the president’s widow Martine Moise conspired with former prime minister Claude Joseph to kill the president in order to replace him herself.

Jovenel Moise was shot dead when armed men broke into his Port-au-Prince bedroom on the night of July 7, 2021, a raid that left the former first lady injured.

The judge’s order calls for the arrest and trial of those charged.

The former first lady did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment, nor did Joseph. Moise has criticised on social media what she calls unjust arrests and political persecutions.

Joseph told the Miami Herald that the president’s de-facto successor, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, was the main beneficiary and was now “weaponising the Haitian justice system” to persecute opponents in “a classic coup d’etat”.

A spokesperson for Henry’s office said the judge was independent and “free to issue his order in accordance with the law and his conscience”.

Henry was appointed to replace Joseph, who now leads an opposition party, days before the assassination. He pledged to hold elections but has postponed them indefinitely, citing a devastating earthquake and the growing power of heavily armed criminal gangs, for which he has sought foreign aid.

The gangs are now estimated to control most of the capital, and Kenya is preparing to lead a UN-ratified international force to support Haitian police, though prior abuses by foreign missions and allegations against Henry’s government have left countries wary of volunteering support.

A separate case on Jovenel Moise’s killing is being tried in Miami, where six of 11 defendants have pleaded guilty to a plot to send Colombian mercenaries to kidnap Moise, a plan that was changed at the last minute to a plot to murder him, prosecutors say.

According to the charges filed in the US, the conspirators had sought to replace Moise with the Haitian-American pastor Christian Emmanuel Sanon.

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