Haiti’s Prime Minister is Now a Suspect in the President’s Assassination

A request from the country's top prosecutor that Prime Minister Ariel Henry be charged with the murder of President Moïse has also asked the PM not be allowed to leave Haiti.

Sep 14 2021, 8:05pm

Haiti’s top prosecutor asked a judge on Tuesday to charge the prime minister in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7.

The request to the investigating judge in the case comes just three days after it was revealed that Ariel Henry, who was appointed prime minister on July 20, exchanged two phone calls with one of the primary suspects of the killing hours after Moïse was shot and killed in his home by a group of gunmen that included Colombian mercenaries.

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The suspect, Joseph Felix Badio, is a former official with the Ministry of Justice whose current whereabouts are unknown. Geolocation data obtained by prosecutors shows that Badio was in the vicinity of the killing when the calls between him and Henry were made, according to the request made by prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude.

Claude's petition threatens to plunge the impoverished nation deeper into turmoil at a time when it’s still grappling with the aftermath of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on August 14 that killed more than 2,200 people and destroyed towns across the southwest. It comes ahead of a general election scheduled for November 7 that would elect a new president and legislature.

Claude had requested that Henry voluntarily appear on Tuesday to answer questions regarding the phone calls, but the prime minister refused, calling it a “diversionary tactic.”

“There are enough compromising elements … to prosecute Henry and ask for his outright indictment,” Claude stated in the petition to the investigating judge, Garry Orelien.  

In addition to the two telephone calls, which lasted a total of seven minutes, Claude also cited Henry’s public defense of Badio and a Twitter statement by a Cabinet member who said that Henry had told him that he had never spoken to Badio.

In a separate letter to the director of the country’s immigration and emigration office, Claude asked him to prevent Henry from leaving the country “due to serious presumption in the assassination of” President Moïse.

Henry is a former neurosurgeon who entered politics at the turn of the century and has since held several high-ranking government posts. He was nominated to become prime minister by Moïse on July 5, but the transfer of power was delayed due to the power struggle that followed Moïse’s assassination. 

Henry’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment from news agencies regarding Claude’s petition to the judge. In a public meeting on Saturday, the prime minister told politicians and civil society leaders that “the real culprits” in the assassination would be found and brought to justice, the Associated Press reported

More than 40 suspects have been arrested in connection with the assassination, including 18 former military officers from Colombia.  

The judge has three months to determine what, if any, actions should be taken, reported the Associated Press.

Updated: Henry appears unlikely to sit and wait for a decision. Within hours of the news of the request for his indictment, he fired Bed-Ford Claude, the prosecutor pushing for the charges. 

Tagged:

world politics, worldnews

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