Former Haitian police chief accused in 2021 presidential slaying resigns as OAS representative

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Léon Charles, the former chief of Haiti’s National Police who was recently accused in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, announced Thursday that he was stepping down as permanent representative of Haiti to the Organization of American States.

The announcement comes just days after a final report from a judge investigating the July 2021 killing detailed the charges against dozens of suspects including Charles. He is accused of murder, attempted murder, possession and illegal carrying of weapons, conspiracy against the internal security of the state and criminal association.

Charles wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that he resigned “in order to have free rein to defend myself against the far-fetched accusations included in this ruling of shame!”

In a letter dated Feb. 21 that he posted on X, Charles said he would resign immediately and denounced that he was implicated “in an absolutely unjust and slanderous manner.”

He also wrote that he would “vigorously fight” by all legal means available the accusations against him to clear his name and “cleanse his honor.”

Charles, who was police chief when Moïse was killed, is one of several suspects facing the most serious charges. Scores of others, including the president’s widow, face lesser charges.

The judge noted in his report that the president called Charles in the midst of the brutal attack at his residence in the pre-dawn hours, but that Charles did not take any action in the 18 minutes that passed before Moïse called another high-ranking official for help.

The judge wrote that Charles “claimed not to have been able to arrive at the president’s house” and noted that he did not rush to the scene.

The report also stated that one of the main suspects in the case told authorities that Charles participated “in many meetings” ahead of the killing to plot the arrest of the president, which was the original objective before orders supposedly changed at the last minute to kill him.

More than 40 suspects already have been arrested in the case and remain behind bars in Haiti awaiting trial. Another 11 suspects have been prosecuted by U.S. federal authorities.

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