Former Haitian President's Wife, Police Chief Among Those Indicted In His Assassination: Report | CBC News


A judge investigating the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse issued a final report on Monday that indicts his widow, Martine Moïse, ex-prime minister Claude Joseph and the former chief of Haiti’s National Police, Léon Charles, among others.

Martine Moïse accused of complicity and criminal association in judge’s final reportThe Associated Press

· Posted: Feb 19, 2024 7:20 PM EST | Last Updated: February 20

Martine Moïse addresses the media after speaking at a judicial hearing into the assassination of her husband, former Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Oct. 6, 2021. The judge overseeing the probe said he found he found her testimony not credible. (Ralph Tedy Erol/Reuters)A judge in Haiti responsible for investigating the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse has indicted his widow, Martine Moïse, ex-prime minister Claude Joseph and the former chief of Haiti’s National Police, Léon Charles, among others, according to a report obtained Monday.

The indictments are expected to further destabilize Haiti as it struggles with a surge in gang violence and recovers from a spate of violent protests demanding the resignation of current Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Dozens of suspects were indicted in the 122-page report issued by Walther Wesser Voltaire, who is the fifth judge to lead the investigation after previous ones stepped down for various reasons, including fear of being killed.

Charles, who was police chief when Moïse was killed and now serves as Haiti’s permanent representative to the Organization of the American States (OAS), faces the most serious charges: murder, attempted murder, possession and illegal carrying of weapons, conspiracy against the internal security of the state and criminal association.

Meanwhile, Joseph and Martine Moïse, who was injured in the attack, are accused of complicity and criminal association.

Charles could not be immediately reached for comment, and Moïse’s attorney did not return a message for comment.

Léon Charles, at the time chief of the Haitian National Police, arrives for the funeral of slain President Jovenel Moïse on July 23, 2021, in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. Moïse, 53, was shot dead in his home on July 7, 2021. (Valerie Baeriswyl/AFP/Getty Images)Meanwhile, Joseph, the former prime minister, shared a statement with The Associated Press accusing Henry of “undermining” the investigation and benefiting from the president’s death.

“Henry … is weaponizing the Haitian justice system, prosecuting political opponents like me. It’s a classic coup d’état,” Joseph said. “They failed to kill me and Martine Moïse on July 7th, 2021, now they are using the Haitian justice system to advance their Machiavellian agenda.”

Joseph again called on Henry to resign and noted that while he was still prime minister, he invited the FBI to help local authorities investigate the killing and wrote the UN and OAS for help.

Valbrun said that two days before her husband was killed, Martine Moïse visited the National Palace and spent nearly five hours, from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., removing “a bunch of things.”

He said that two days after Jovenel Moïse was slain, Martine Moïse called to tell him that “Jovenel didn’t do anything for us. You have to open the office. The president told Ti Klod to create a council of ministers; he will hold elections in three months so I can become president, now we will have power.”

While the document did not identify Ti Klod, the former prime minister, Claude Joseph, is known by that name.

Motorcyclists evade tear gas fired by Haitian National Police officers near a scene where agents of Haiti’s BSAP, an armed environmental agency that has in recent years evolved into a paramilitary body, were killed in a shootout with security forces, in Port-au-Prince on Feb. 7. (Ralph Tedy Erol/Reuters)’Tainted with contradictions’The judge said the former first lady’s statements were “so tainted with contradictions that they leave something to be desired and discredit her.”

Others who face charges, including murder, are: Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian-American pastor who visualized himself as Haiti’s next president and said he thought Moïse was only going to be arrested; Joseph Vincent, a Haitian-American and former informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Dimitri Hérard, presidential security chief; John Joël Joseph, a former Haitian senator; and Windelle Coq, a Haitian judge whom authorities say is a fugitive.

Sanon, Vincent and Joseph were extradited to the U.S., where a total of 11 suspects face federal charges in the slaying of Haiti’s president. At least three of them already have been sentenced.

Meanwhile, more than 40 suspects are languishing in prison in Haiti awaiting trial, although it was not immediately clear how quickly one would be held following Monday’s indictments.

Among them are 20 former Colombian soldiers. 

A photograph of Moïse is displayed during a memorial service at Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church, in the Little Haiti neighbourhood of Miami, on July 22, 2021. (Rebecca Blackwell/The Associated Press)U.S. prosecutors have described the assassination as a plot hatched in both Haiti and Florida to hire mercenaries to kidnap or kill Moïse, who was 53 when he was slain, at his private home near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

The attack began late July 6 and ended July 7, according to witnesses.

Martine Moïse and others who were interrogated said they heard heavy gunfire starting around 1 a.m. that lasted between 30 to 45 minutes before armed men burst into the bedroom of the presidential couple.

Moïse said she was lying on the ground when she heard the attackers yell, “That’s not it! That’s not it! That’s not it!”

Once they left, Moïse said she dragged herself on the ground and whispered to her husband that she was going to try and go to the hospital.

“That’s when she noticed that the president was dead and that his left eye had been removed from the socket,” the report stated.

Moïse said a group of about 30 to 50 police officers were supposed to guard the presidential residence, but the judge noted that only a handful of officers were present that night.

One officer said the head of security for the first lady found her “in critical condition” surrounded by her two children. He said he also saw an undetermined number of people coming out of the president’s residence “with briefcases and several envelopes in their possession.”

The report quotes Inspector General André Vladimir Paraison saying that the president called him at 1:46 a.m. and told him, “Paraison! Man, hurry up! I’m in trouble! Come quickly and save my life.”

The judge noted how “none of the police providing security to the head of state was in danger. Unfortunately, the head of state was assassinated with ease.”

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