Colombia describes trip of suspects in Haiti assassination – .

New suspects arrested in the assassination of the Haitian president – .

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITITI – Colombians implicated in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise were recruited by four companies and traveled to the Caribbean country in two groups via the Dominican Republic, the head of the DRC said on Friday. Colombian police, while the United States said it would send senior FBI and Homeland Security officials to help with the investigation.

Haitian National Police Chief Leon Charles said 17 suspects were arrested in the brazen Moise murder that stunned a nation already reeling from poverty, widespread violence and political instability.

As the investigation progressed, the murder took on the appearance of a complicated international plot. Besides the Colombians, among those detained by the police were two Haitian-Americans, who were described as translators for the attackers. Some of the suspects were arrested in a raid on the Taiwanese embassy where they are said to have sought refuge

During a press conference in Bogota, the Colombian capital, General Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia said that four companies had been involved in the “recruiting, bringing together of these people” involved in the assassination, although he did not failed to identify the companies because their names were still being verified.

Two of the suspects traveled to Haiti via Panama and the Dominican Republic, Vargas said, while the second group of 11 arrived in Haiti on July 4 from the Dominican Republic.

In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said senior officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security would be sent to Haiti “as soon as possible to assess the situation and how we might be able. to help ”.

“The United States remains engaged and in close consultation with our Haitian and international partners to support the Haitian people in the aftermath of the assassination of the president,” said Psaki.

Eight other suspects are still at large, Haitian national police chief Leon Charles said.

“We will bring them to justice,” the police chief said, as the 17 handcuffed suspects sat on the ground at a press conference on Thursday.

Examining magistrate Clément Noël told French-language newspaper Le Nouvelliste that the arrested Haitian-Americans, James Solages and Joseph Vincent, said the attackers had initially planned only to arrest Moise, not to kill him. Noël said Solages and Vincent were acting as translators for the attackers, the newspaper reported on Friday.

The attack, which took place at Moise’s home before dawn on Wednesday, also seriously injured his wife, who was airlifted to Miami for treatment.

Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph assumed the leadership with police and military support and declared a two-week “state of siege”. Port-au-Prince is already on the alert amid the growing power of gangs who have displaced more than 14,700 people just last month as they torched and ransacked homes in a fight for the territory.

The murder brought the usually bustling capital to a standstill, but Joseph urged the public to return to work. Street markets, supermarkets, banks and gas stations reopened on Friday and people lined up to buy fuel again.

Vargas pledged Colombia’s full cooperation after Haiti said about six of the suspects, including two of the three killed, were retired members of the Colombian military. US-trained Colombian soldiers are heavily recruited by private security companies in global conflict zones because of their experience in fighting leftist rebels and powerful drug cartels.

The wife of a former Colombian soldier in custody said he was recruited by a security company to travel to the Dominican Republic last month.

The woman, who only identified as “Yuli,” told Colombian radio W that her husband, Francisco Uribe, was hired for $ 2,700 a month by a company called CTU to travel to Dominican Republic, where he was told he would provide protection to a few powerful families. She says she last spoke to him at 10 p.m. on Wednesday – almost a day after Moise’s murder – and said he was on call at a house where he and others were staying.

“The next day he wrote me a message that sounded like a farewell,” the woman said. “They were running, they had been attacked. … It was the last contact I had.

The woman said she knew little about her husband’s activities and did not even know he had visited Haiti.

Uribe is under investigation for his alleged role in extrajudicial killings committed by the US-trained Colombian military over a decade ago. Colombian court records show that he and another soldier were charged with killing a civilian in 2008 whom they then attempted to portray as a felony killed in action.

The US State Department said it was aware of reports that Haitian-Americans were in detention, but would not comment.

Solages, 35, described himself as a ‘certified diplomatic agent’, children’s advocate and aspiring politician on a now-deleted website for a charity he established in 2019 in South Florida to help residents of his hometown of Jacmel, in southern Haiti. coast.

Solages also said he had worked as a bodyguard at the Canadian Embassy in Haiti, and on his Facebook page, which was also deleted after news of his arrest was announced, he featured photos of armored military vehicles. and a photo of him standing in front of an American Flag.

Canada’s Department of Foreign Relations released a statement that did not refer to Solages by name, but stated that one of the men detained for his alleged role in the murder had been “briefly employed as a reserve bodyguard” at its embassy by a private contractor.

Appeals to the association and to Solages associates have gone unanswered. However, a relative in South Florida said Solages had no military training and did not believe he was involved in the murder.

“I feel like my son killed my brother because I love my president and I love James Solages,” Schubert Dorisme, whose wife is Solages’ aunt, told WPLG in Miami.

Taiwan’s embassy in Port-au-Prince said police arrested 11 people who attempted to break and enter on Thursday morning. He gave no details of their identity or the reason for the break-in, but in a statement he called the men “mercenaries” and strongly condemned the “cruel and barbaric murder” of Moise.

“As to whether the suspects were involved in the assassination of the President of Haiti, this will have to be investigated by the Haitian police,” Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou told reporters. the Associated Press in Taipei.

Police were alerted by embassy security as Taiwanese diplomats were working from home. Haiti is one of the few countries with diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Officials have disclosed little of the murder, other than saying the attack was carried out by “a highly trained and heavily armed group.”

Not everyone believed in the government’s account. When Haitian journalist Robenson Geffrard tweeted a report about the police chief’s comments, it drew a flood of skeptical responses. Many wondered how what authorities had called sophisticated attackers could be caught so easily.

Haiti had become increasingly unstable under Moise, who had ruled by decree for more than a year and faced fierce protests as critics accused him of trying to accumulate more power as the opposition demanded that he resigns.

After the UN Security Council met privately on Haiti on Thursday, UN Special Envoy Helen La Lime said Haitian officials had requested additional security assistance.


Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Goodman reported from Miami. AP videographer Pierre-Richard Luxama in Port-au-Prince and Johnson Lai in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed


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