- Haiti’s interim prime minister said in an interview that the former president was tortured before being assassinated.
- At least 17 suspects have been arrested in connection with the murder.
- There are no plans to send US military aid to Haiti, the White House said.
After the assassination of the president of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, which shocked the world, Claude Joseph, the interim prime minister, said in an interview with ABC News that the ex-president was tortured before being assassinated and promised to do justice.
“The mercenaries came to the president’s house, tortured and killed him,” said Joseph, who still seemed emotionally affected by the attack. “We captured about 20 of them. They are currently in custody ”.
Moise was tortured by mercenaries, Haiti’s acting minister said
“We firmly believe that justice will be done to President Jovenel Moise (…) We have the right people [bajo custodia]”Added Joseph to ABC, who expressed concern about the leadership crisis that threatens to bring more difficulties and chaos to one of the poorest countries in the world.
At around 1 a.m. local time on Wednesday, an armed group broke into Moise’s residence and shot and killed the head of state and wounded his wife. Three policemen who had been taken hostage by the alleged gunmen were released.
Mercenaries claimed to be DEA agents
Members of the group claimed to be agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration during the raid, according to Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond, which both the Haitian and US governments have denied.
On Saturday, an audio message from Martine Moise, the first lady from Haiti, who was injured in the attack and flown to Florida for treatment, was released from his official Twitter account.
“This act has no name”
“This great act of murder makes my children and me cry, and I know you are crying too,” he said. “This act has no name, because it must be a crime out of bounds to assassinate a president like Jovenel Moise without giving him the opportunity to speak a word.”
At least 20 suspects have been arrested in connection with the murder, including 18 Hispanics and two US citizens, identified by authorities as James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55.
Arrest of U.S. Citizens
Haitian Judge Clement Noel, who is close to the case and said he had interviewed the couple, told ABC News who claimed to be working as translators for the group and denied being mercenaries. According to Noel, Solages said he found the job on the internet and that they were supposed to arrest Moise rather than kill him.
“We are certainly aware of the arrest of the two US citizens who are in Haiti and we continue to closely monitor the situation,” said US State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter.
18 of those arrested were Colombian citizens
Fifteen of the detainees were Colombian citizens, some of whom are believed to have a military background, according to Colombian authorities. Two Colombian nationals were killed in a shooting in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, Noel confirmed.
On Saturday, a senior White House official told ABC News that “there are currently no plans to send US military aid to Haiti,” even though the Haitian government has expressly requested it, given the risk of an explosion of violence.
The White House will send officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security
The White House said Friday that FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials would be dispatched to Haiti to help with the murder investigation.
Before the assassination, Moise’s opponents claimed the former president had exceeded his time in power, while the United States and the UN backed his claim that his term was scheduled to end in February 2022.
The president of the Senate of Haiti has positioned himself as the next interim president
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States would continue to work with Joseph since he is the incumbent, and said US officials had also been in contact with Henry, urging calm.
Joseph Lambert, the president of the Haitian Senate, has positioned himself as the next interim president, though who would back him remains to be seen. So far, eight sitting senators have signed a memorandum in support of Lambert’s appointment, but the situation is not constitutionally clear.
Haiti requested assistance from the United Nations
When asked about the political power struggle, Joseph said his main objective was the investigation of Moise’s murder. “I don’t know if there is a power struggle. I am not paying attention to whether or not there is a power struggle. I am paying attention to bring justice to President Jovenel Moise ”.
Haiti also sent a letter to the United Nations requesting assistance, Deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Saturday. The letter called for troops and security at key facilities, according to a UN source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details of the letter are private.
A group of legislators announced their allegiance to Joseph Lambert
“We definitely need help and we have asked our international partners to help us,” Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph told the AP in a telephone interview Friday night. “We believe that our partners can support the national police to resolve the situation.”
On Friday, a group of lawmakers announced their allegiance to Joseph Lambert, president of Haiti’s now-dismantled Senate, and recognized him as interim president, in direct challenge to the authority of the interim government.
They also recognized as prime minister Ariel Henry, whom Moïse had selected to replace Joseph the day before he was assassinated, but who had not yet taken office or formed a government.
One of those legislators, Rosemond Pradel, stressed to the AP that Joseph “is neither qualified nor does he have the legal right” to lead the country. Joseph, who assumed the leadership with the backing of the police and the military, said he was not “interested in a fight for power.”
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