Haiti

Wife of Assassinated Haitian President Indicted in His Killing

Author: Editors Desk Source: WSJ:
February 20, 2024 at 01:41
Haiti’s former first lady, Martine Moïse, addresses the media after speaking at a judicial hearing into the assassination of her husband. PHOTO: RALPH TEDY EROL/REUTERS
Haiti’s former first lady, Martine Moïse, addresses the media after speaking at a judicial hearing into the assassination of her husband. PHOTO: RALPH TEDY EROL/REUTERS

A Haitian judge says former first lady Martine Moïse was an accomplice in her husband’s assassination

 

A Haitian judge has indicted former first lady Martine Moïse, as well as the country’s former prime minister and police chief, in connection with the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

The three are the highest-profile political figures indicted in the case, which includes 51 people in total, among them several former Colombian soldiers, several close aides of the assassinated president, and other Haitian government officials and politicians. 

The indictment accuses Martine Moïse, who was seriously wounded in the attack, of being complicit in the assassination of her husband. The judge said he found contradictions in Moïse’s statements and some evidence that suggest she knew about a plot against the former president. He cited testimony from two other defendants who claimed she wanted to run for president after the killing.

The accusation issued by investigating Judge Walther Voltaire didn’t offer evidence showing that Martine Moïse directly participated in the assassination plot.

Moïse’s Florida-based lawyer, Paul Turner, didn’t respond to calls seeking comment. An arrest warrant for Moïse was issued in Haiti in October after she ignored a summons to appear for questioning. Her whereabouts couldn’t be determined. After the attack, she underwent medical treatment in the U.S. On social media, she has criticized the country’s judicial system as corrupt.

Some analysts say Prime Minister Ariel Henry has used the case to persecute political opponents and clear himself and his allies of suspected involvement. Henry had close ties to one of the key suspects. He has denied having any involvement in the assassination or interfering in the case.
 

Martine Moïse attends a memorial service for her late husband in 2021. PHOTO: ODELYN JOSEPH/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Martine Moïse attends a memorial service for her late husband in 2021. PHOTO: ODELYN JOSEPH/ASSOCIATED PRESS


“The judge didn’t conduct a serious investigation. His work has been very limited and didn’t really explore substantial elements such as the motives behind the killing and who paid for it,” said Gedeon Jean, the director of the Center for Human Rights Analysis and Research in Port-au-Prince. 

The judge’s office didn’t reply to calls seeking comment.

Former Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who competed with Henry in the summer of 2021 to lead the country after President Moise’s assassination, is also accused of complicity in the killing. 

According to testimony from several witnesses, Joseph sought to remain in his post and become acting president while elections were held, for which he reportedly had the support of the former first lady, who would then compete for the presidency in the new elections. 

Former national police chief Leon Charles is also accused of participating in the conspiracy against the former president. Joseph and Charles didn’t respond to calls seeking comment. 

The killing of Jovenel Moïse plunged Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, into political turmoil and violence as criminal gangs expanded their reach over large swaths of the country. 
 

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry (third from left) with Former Prime Minister Claude Joseph (second from left) at Henry’s swearing-in in 2021. PHOTO: ORLANDO BARRIA/SHUTTERSTOCK
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry (third from left) with Former Prime Minister Claude Joseph (second from left) at Henry’s swearing-in in 2021. PHOTO: ORLANDO BARRIA/SHUTTERSTOCK


A United Nations-backed deployment of Kenyan police forces to Haiti to help fight criminal gangs, requested by Henry’s government, was blocked last month by a Kenyan court.

Henry, who is seen by many Haitians as illegitimate, hasn’t called new elections on grounds that security conditions don’t allow for it. Protests against him, some of them supported by gangs, have taken place across the country. 

Jovenel Moïse was shot dead in his bedroom in mid-2021 when a group of armed men burst into his private residence in Port-au-Prince. The group was mostly formed of Colombian mercenaries acting on the orders of a group of Haitian and Haitian American politicians and officials, according to authorities. 

A parallel investigation in the U.S. has led to federal charges against 11 people accused of conspiring to kill Moïse. The U.S. inquiry alleges that a Miami-based security firm set out to arrest Moïse and replace him with Christian Sanon, a Haitian American citizen who wanted to become president of the Caribbean country.

U.S. authorities haven’t implicated Martine Moïse or Joseph in the plot.

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