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Haiti's Leader Fires Prosecutor Who Wanted Him Indicted

Chief prosecutor accused Ariel Henry of involvement in president's assassination
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2021 4:04 PM CDT
Updated Sep 15, 2021 3:12 PM CDT
Haiti’s Leader Accused of Involvement in Assassination
In this July 20, 2021 photo, Haiti's designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry gestures during his appointment ceremony in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.   (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn, File)

(Newser) Update: Haiti's prime minister has fired a prosecutor who asked a judge to charge him in connection with the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Chief prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude was replaced on the orders of Prime Minister Ariel Henry just hours after he asked for the indictment Tuesday, the AP reports. Some officials are now distancing themselves from Henry. Rénald Luberice, secretary general of Haiti's Council of Ministers, resigned Wednesday and accused Henry of obstructing justice. "May each minister put himself at the height of his mission at this historic crossroads," he said. Our original story follows.

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A huge development in Haiti: The country's chief prosecutor has asked a judge to indict the country's leader in connection with the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise and ban him from leaving the country. Prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude says records show that Prime Minister Ariel Henry was in phone contact with one of the chief suspects on the night of the killing, the Washington Post reports. "There are enough compromised elements against the prime minister to indict him, pure and simple," Claude said Tuesday. He says Henry spoke to suspect Joseph Badio for a total of seven minutes in two calls shortly after Moise was shot dead.

Henry—who was named prime minister by Moise days before the killing—came to power less than two weeks after the assassination but has struggled to maintain authority amid a power struggle with members of Moise's inner circle, the New York Times reports. The investigating judge now has three months to act on Claude's request and determine what happens next in the case. Justice Minister Rockefeller Vincent has ordered police to ramp up security for Claude because the prosecutor has received "disturbing threats." The country's Office of Citizen Protection has urged Henry to step down.

Robert Fatton, a Haitian politics expert at the University of Virginia, tells the AP there is clearly a conflict between the Moise and Henry factions in the government. "We have a very confusing situation, a power struggle at the moment, and we will see who will win it," he said. "It’s not clear where we are going, and it’s not clear what the international community thinks about everything." More than 40 suspects have been arrested in connection with the assassination, but Badio, a former intelligence officer, and several others are still at large. (Read more Haiti stories.)

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