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Suspects in the Haitian president's assassination say they broke into his house to arrest - not kill - him, reports say

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17 arrested in haiti assassination sitting in a line
Suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse seen in Port-au-Prince. STR/AFP via Getty Images
  • Jovenel Moïse was killed in the bedroom of his Port-au-Prince home early on July 7.

  • Two of the 17 men arrested said the plan was to arrest Moïse, not kill him, per the Miami Herald.

  • The motive is still unclear. Haitian authorities have accused 28 men of being part of the hit.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Two men suspected of taking part in the assassination of Haiti's president last week have said the plan was to arrest, not kill, him, the Miami Herald and Reuters reported.

Jovenel Moïse was shot 12 times in the bedroom of his private home on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince early on July 7.

Haitian authorities have accused 28 men, most of whom are Colombian, of being part of the assassination plot.

As of Monday, 21 people have been arrested, Reuters reported. It is not clear how many of those 21 men were accused assassins.

Three people arrested are American, The New York Times reported on Sunday. One, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, appears not to have taken part in the assassination, but is considered the mastermind.

Moïse's wife, who was also shot during the attack, said in a voice note posted to Twitter on Saturday that it happened "in the blink of an eye," and that her husband was "riddled" with bullets.

Two of the suspects said the plan was not to kill Moïse but arrest him, the Herald reported.

James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55, both Haitian Americans from Florida, said the plan was to "arrest the president and go to the presidential palace with him," investigative judge Clément Noël said, the Herald reported.

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in Antalya, Turkey, on June 18. Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The pair said they "didn't go to kill the president" but to be translators, Noël told the newspaper.

"They said they knew what happened, but they didn't participate in the killing. They were there to translate."

Reuters reported that Solages and Vincent said they were translators for the Colombian commando unit that had an arrest warrant for Moïse, but that the president was dead by the time they arrived.

It is not clear who had issued the arrest warrant or how the men would have obtained it.

Some of the arrested Colombians said they were hired by CTU Security, a Miami company, the Herald reported.

Haitian officials say they arrested one of the masterminds

At a press conference on Sunday, Haitian officials said they had arrested Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a doctor in Florida, whom they consider one of the masterminds. Sanon is the third Haitian-born suspect known to be arrested, The Times reported.

Léon Charles, the Haiti police chief, said Sanon had entered Haiti in early June via private jet "with political objectives," the BBC and The Times reported.

Charles said Sanon, 63, planned to take over as president. Charles added that he had identified two other ringleaders, but he did not name them.

Members of the hit squad had been in the country for at least three months to prepare the attack, The Guardian reported.

Moïse's killing follows years of social unrest in Haiti.

He was accused of clinging onto power, but the emerging power vacuum has triggered fears that Haiti will descend into civic chaos without external intervention.

The Haitian government has asked the US to send troops to help stabilize the country, but the US is as yet undecided.

"We're analyzing it, just like we would any other request for assistance here at the Pentagon. It's going through a review," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told "Fox News Sunday."

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