Number in custody in Haiti over President Moïse’s assassination climbs to 44

·3 min read

More than 40 individuals have been arrested in the ongoing probe into who killed Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, Haiti National Police said Friday.

Among those in custody are a dozen police officers, including four who accompanied Colombian commandos as they entered Moïse’s hilltop home in the middle of the night on July 7, according to testimony given by the commandos in custody.

Haitian police have said as many as 26 Colombians stormed the president’s residence in an armed attack that left him shot multiple times and his wife, Martine, wounded. None of the president’s security agents were shot or killed. Police have not said how many agents in the president’s security detail were working the night of the attack.

Members of the military band perform during a ceremony in honor of late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 20, 2021. The ceremony occurred as designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry prepared to replace interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, after the July 7 attack at Moïse’s private home.
Members of the military band perform during a ceremony in honor of late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 20, 2021. The ceremony occurred as designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry prepared to replace interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, after the July 7 attack at Moïse’s private home.

In addition to the 12 police officers, the growing list of those arrested includes 18 Colombians, three Haitian Americans with ties to South Florida and six Haitian nationals. Among the officers is the president’s security chief, Jean Laguel Civil, who was arrested Monday.

Despite the arrests, dozens of interrogations and the search of several properties in Haiti and South Florida, Haitian police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is assisting in the multinational investigation, have not yet said who financed and authored the killing.

Haiti police spokeswoman Marie-Michelle Verrier said while some of the cops — including one officer recently arrested — were taken into custody because of their presence alongside the Colombians. She said others were arrested because they did not do their jobs or take responsibility to protect the president on the night of the assassination. The Miami Herald and McClatchy’s Washington Bureau previously reported that in the moments before his death Moïse frantically called several people for help, pleading to be rescued.

Verrier also gave some details on why police have issued a wanted poster for Supreme Court Justice Windelle Coq Thelot. She said Thelot held a meeting at her home ahead of the assassination, and that some of the Colombian suspects in custody have provided police investigators “with a lot of details” about certain documents the justice reportedly signed.

The documents, Verrier said, were provided by CTU Security, a Doral-based firm owned by a Venezuelan émigré linked to the assassination. Thelot’s whereabouts remain unknown, as do those of several other Colombian and Haitian nationals, including a former Haitian rebel leader, a former opposition senator and a former employee in the government’s anti-corruption unit.

Edwin Coq, the brother of the Supreme Court justice and one of her lawyers, said she is being persecuted politically. Coq told the Miami Herald that Haitian police are violating the law by going after his sister, and that they have no evidence she had any involvement in the plot to kill the president. At the time of the president’s death, the justice had lost her only son and her father within days of each other, Coq said.

“For a person ravaged by deaths, she was not in the mental state to be involved in something like this,” he said.

Edwin Coq said he also has no information about any documents signed with CTU.

“It’s because her name has been cited as someone who can become provisional president that they are doing this,” he added.

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