U.S. Charges Four in Connection With the Assassination of Haiti’s President – The New York Times

Politics|U.S. Charges Four in Connection With the Assassination of Haiti’s President

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/31/us/politics/charges-haiti-moise-assassination.html

The decision to charge the men, considered to be ringleaders in the assassination plot, in the United States is an indication of the chronic dysfunction of the Haitian justice system.

A framed portrait of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti at his memorial service in Port-au-Prince.
A portrait of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti at his memorial service in Port-au-Prince. The charges outlined a sprawling conspiracy to assassinate him.Credit…Joseph Odelyn/Associated Press

Chris Cameron

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 said on Tuesday.

The announcement of the charges from the federal government — more than 18 months after the murder of Mr. Moïse — outlined a sprawling conspiracy to murder the Haitian leader and seize power, supported by an unnamed former Haitian Supreme Court judge, Colombian mercenaries and an illegal arms shipment from the United States.

The decision to charge the four men, who are considered 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 have disintegrated after Mr. Moïse’s assassination, and conditions in the country have worsened in recent months.

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

Dr. Christian Emmanuel Sanon, another dual Haitian American citizen, was charged with counts related to smuggling.

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

The four newly charged men are scheduled to make their first appearance in court in Miami on Wednesday afternoon, after being transferred into U.S. custody on Tuesday. They were arrested in Haiti soon after Mr. Moïse’s assassination and had been detained there since.

Haitian authorities had said at the time of Dr. Sanon’s arrest that they believed he wanted to seize power for himself as president. But he was not charged with conspiracy to commit murder, as the three other 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 that meeting, the department added, the two men received a list of equipment needed for the “regime change operation,” including rifles, machine guns, tear gas, grenades, ammunition and bulletproof vests.

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

Later in June 2021, the complaints allege, “support for President Moïse’s replacement shifted to a former Haitian Supreme Court judge” who provided cover for a plot to arrest and imprison Mr. Moïse, signing a document that “claimed to provide immunity in Haiti to those who participated in the operation.”

By July 6, 2021, the day before assassination, the plan had changed, according to the Justice Department: Mr. Solages announced to Mr. Vincent, Mr. García and other conspirators that they would kill Mr. Moïse.

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

Maria Abi-Habib contributed reporting from Mexico City.