Sat | Aug 13, 2022

Court denies request to extradite Jordanian implicated in Haitian president’s assassination

Published:Tuesday | July 5, 2022 | 12:15 PM
In this February 7, 2020, file photo, Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse speaks during an interview at his home in Petion-Ville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery, File)

ANKARA, Turkey, CMC – The High Criminal Court of Istanbul has rejected a request for the extradition of Jordanian businessman Samir Nasri Salem Handal to Haiti to stand trial for his alleged involvement in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

Moïse was gunned down at his private residence overlooking the capital Port Au Prince on July 7, 2021.

Haitian police say a group of mercenaries, most of them Colombians, was behind the attack which they suspect a Haitian doctor of ordering as part of a plot to become president.

Handal was apprehended while attempting to leave Turkey in November and was detained by Turkish authorities pending an investigation.

He is alleged to have provided shelter to the main conspirator of the assassination.

Interpol sent out a Red Notice alerting member states that Handal was wanted, but the notice was later lifted.

During the court proceedings on Monday, Handal's lawyer criticised the court's handling of the case and the continued detainment of his client following the lifting of the Interpol arrest warrant.

Handal himself also argued to the judge that if he was extradited to Haiti, he would be killed.

“I went to court because of the Interpol decision, but I don't have an Interpol decision on me at the moment. I sent a letter to the court this morning. I don't want to be sent back because if I am sent back, I will be tortured and killed.

“Currently, my red notice decision has been lifted; I have another option to stay in prison. Is there a reason because there is no Interpol decision about me. If I was arrested with an Interpol search warrant and now it doesn't exist, why doesn't Turkey let me go? I want justice from Turkey,” he said.

Handal, in addition to being Haitian and American, also holds Jordanian and Palestinian nationalities through his parents.

He had been arrested in Turkey on November 15, 2021, upon arrival on a Turkish Airlines flight from Miami.

He had been accused of having rented his house in Florida to Dr Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian doctor who has been living in Florida for 20 years and who is later suspected by the Haitian authorities of being one of those behind the assassination of Moïse.

Handal has consistently denied the accusation saying he rented his house to Sanon to establish a medical practice there and that he had never attended any meeting in this house or ever heard of a plot except after the assassination of President Moïse in the media.

One of Handal's lawyers, Tuğçe Duygu Köksal, celebrated the decision, saying “today the law has the final word and Samir Handal's extradition proceedings resulted in a legal victory”.

In Haiti, the President of the Senate, Joseph Lambert, described the ruling as a great disappointment.

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