Four key suspects in Haiti presidential slaying in US custody
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Four key suspects in the killing of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse were transferred to the United States for prosecution as the case stagnates in Haiti amid death threats that have spooked local judges, US officials announced Tuesday.
The suspects now in custody of the US government include James Solages, 37, and Joseph Vincent, 57, two Haitian-Americans who were among the first arrested after Moïse was shot 12 times at his private home near the capital of Port-au-Prince on July, 7 2021.
Also charged is Christian Emmanuel Sanon, an elderly pastor, doctor and failed businessman that authorities have identified as a key player. His associates have suggested he was duped by the real, and still unidentified, masterminds behind the assassination that has plunged Haiti deep into political chaos and unleashed a level of gang violence not seen in decades.
The fourth suspect was identified as Colombian citizen Germán Rivera García, 44, who is among nearly two dozen former Colombian soldiers charged in the case.
Rivera, along with Solages and Vincent, face charges including conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside the US and providing material support and resources resulting in death, the US Justice Department said.
Sanon is charged with conspiring to smuggle goods from the US and providing unlawful export information. Court documents state that he allegedly shipped 20 ballistic vests to Haiti, but that the items shipped were described as “medical X-ray vests and school supplies.”
It was not immediately known if the four suspects had attorneys who could comment on the development. The men are scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday in Miami.
A total of seven suspects in the case are now in US custody. Dozens of others still languish in Haiti's main penitentiary, which is severely overcrowded and often lacks food and water for inmates.
The case has reached a virtual standstill in Haiti, with local officials last year nominating a fifth judge to investigate the killing after four others were dismissed or resigned for personal reasons.
One judge told The Associated Press that his family asked him not to take the case because they feared for his life. Another judge stepped down after one of his assistants died under murky circumstances.
The other suspects already in US custody are Rodolphe Jaar, a former US government informant and a Haitian businessman who was extradited from the Dominican Republic, where he was detained in January 2022.
That same month, US authorities arrested Mario Antonio Palacios, a former Colombian soldier who was deported by Jamaica after fleeing there from Haiti. While en route to Colombia, he was detained by US officials in Panama during a layover.
Also in January 2022, authorities arrested former Haitian Senator John Joël Joseph, who also had fled to Jamaica.
Alfredo Izaguirre, a Miami-based lawyer for Palacios, said Tuesday's arrival of the four other suspects will postpone the trial because they all have to be tried at the same time.
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