Thu | Sep 28, 2023

Haitian businessman gets life sentence in 2021 assassination of Haiti’s president

Published:Friday | June 2, 2023 | 2:07 PM
An image of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse is displayed at a news conference, February 14, 2023, in Miami. Rodolphe Jaar, a dual Haitian-Chilean businessman who helped former Colombian soldiers obtain weapons to assassinate Moïse in 2021 was sentenced on June 2, 2023 to life in prison in the US, nearly two months after admitting his involvement in the assassination. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

MIAMI (AP) — A federal judge in Miami sentenced a Haitian-Chilean businessman Friday to life in prison for his role in helping Colombian mercenaries get weapons to assassinate Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in 2021.

Rodolphe Jaar, 51, is the first person to be convicted and sentenced in what US prosecutors have described as a broad plot by conspirators in Haiti and Florida to reap lucrative contracts under a new administration once Moïse was out of the way.

An additional 10 defendants are awaiting trial in the United States.

Jaar, who has dual Haitian and Chilean citizenship, previously had been an informant for the US government and had been convicted of drug trafficking a decade ago. He pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States, and to providing material support resulting in death.

Federal Judge José E Martínez handed down the sentence at a 10-minute hearing at the federal court in downtown Miami. Jaar received the maximum sentence he faced despite pleading guilty and pledging to cooperate with investigators in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence.

Moïse was killed on July 7, 2021, when assailants broke into his private home in Port-au-Prince. He was 53 years old.

In addition to Jaar, the other defendants in Miami are: former Colombian soldiers Mario Palacios and Germán Alejandro Rivera García; former Haitian Senator John Joel Joseph; Haitian-Americans James Solages, Joseph Vincent and Christian Emmanuel Sanon; American Federick Joseph Bergmann; Colombian Arcangel Pretel Ortiz; Venezuelan-American Antonio Intriago, and the Ecuadorian-American financier Walter Veintemilla.

The Haitian government also has arrested more than 40 people for their alleged role in the murder, including 18 former Colombian soldiers.

Judge Martínez set a hearing for August 21 to hand down a possible fine.

Jaar arrived in South Florida in January 2022 after being detained in the Dominican Republic, and has been held in federal detention ever since. According to US authorities, he voluntarily agreed to be transferred to Miami to face the charges against him.

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