Haiti's Assassination Probe Implicates President's Wife

Meanwhile, protesters demand resignation of the prime minister over his ties to 2021 killing
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2024 8:50 AM CST
Haiti's Assassination Probe Implicates President's Wife
A protester jumps burning tires during a protest against Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024.   (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

A Haitian prosecutor has accused former President Jovenel Moïse's widow, who was seriously injured during her husband's 2021 assassination, of involvement in the killing. In a criminal complaint, Port-au-Prince public prosecutor Edler Guillaume recommends charges against 70 people, including former First Lady Martine Moïse, reports the New York Times. The complaint doesn't accuse her of any planning but suggests she was complicit. It says a key suspect in custody in Haiti claimed the first lady wanted to take over her husband's role. Her Florida-based lawyer, Paul Turner, has denied "that she is or could ever be a suspect in the case," instead calling her "a victim, just like ... her husband."

There's no evidence to suggest the US Department of Justice, which is separately investigating the case, believes Martine Moïse was involved. Named in an October arrest warrant out of Haiti and now in hiding, she's expected to testify at the trial of six defendants in South Florida later this year. Though it's ultimately up to the investigating judge, not the prosecutor, to press charges, some onlookers believe the new complaint shows Haiti's judicial system is being weaponized to distract from senior government officials' own ties to the assassination. Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who was appointed days before Moïse's murder and went on to seize power, spoke "to a key conspirator by phone shortly before and after the killing," the Times reports.

"The fact that this government is running the investigation is bad enough," Dan Foote, a former US special envoy to Haiti, tells the outlet. "It's not even close to independent." Henry fired another Port-au-Prince prosecutor who accused him of complicity in 2021. Despite the new report, protesters took to the streets in major cities across the country Monday to demand Henry's resignation, per the AP. In the city of Hinche, a crowd cheered as the commander of the Security Brigade for Protected Areas, a group of heavily armed state environmental agents, said, "I want Ariel to stand in front of my bullets, so they go through him." The government is trying to crack down on the splinter group, whose members have exchanged fire with police, per the AP. (More Jovenel Moise stories.)

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