how a lone security guard helped unravel 11 suspects – .

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how a lone security guard helped unravel 11 suspects – .


Police patrol outside the Taiwanese Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on July 9, 2021, after 11 suspected assassins of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse broke into his embassy in an attempt to escape, but were subsequently apprehended by the police.

VALERIE BAERISWYL/AFP/Getty Images

A single security guard from the Taiwanese Embassy in Haiti was responsible for the arrest of 11 suspects in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, after a group of heavily armed commandos invaded the diplomatic compound the evening after the murder.

The Guardian’s heartbreaking ordeal – in which he hid, undetected, in a tinted-window Toyota RAV4 for 18 hours as he helped guide police outside to recapture the building – Was told to The Globe and Mail by a source in Haiti with first-hand knowledge of the situation.

The new details help shed light on the chaotic aftermath of Mr. Moïse’s murder. And they come as authorities release more information on the suspects, including a former security guard at the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince who allegedly told investigators he found the job on the internet.

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Police arrested 15 men in connection with the murder and killed at least four others in shootings. Nine others are still wanted. The 28-man squad was made up mostly of Colombian mercenaries, with two Haitian-Americans, Haiti’s national police said.

“Foreigners have come to our country to kill the president,” police chief Léon Charles told reporters.

One of the Americans arrested, James Solages, 35, was employed by the former security contractor at the Canadian mission in 2010, the Canadian government confirmed to the Globe earlier this week. The contractor has not worked for Canada since 2010.

Who exactly hired the accused assassins, and what their motive was, remains unclear.

Mr. Moïse had spent the past year fighting opposition parties over his term in office. Since the postponement of the legislative elections of 2019, he governed by decree. The country was also torn by protests against political corruption and fuel prices during his tenure.

A video posted on social media in Haiti shows the 11 men arrested at the Taiwanese embassy bloody and bruised, wearing jeans and combat boots. In the video, the group is sitting on the floor of a military base with their hands tied behind their backs, surrounded by soldiers in riot gear.

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Photos released by the Haitian National Police show dozens of weapons and other tools the men are said to have carried during their arrest. These include assault rifles, bulletproof vests, axes, and maces.

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A group of men broke into Mr. Moïse’s private home in Pétion-Ville, an affluent suburb of Port-au-Prince, around 1 a.m. on Wednesday. They shot dead Mr. Moïse and seriously injured his wife, Martine Moïse, who was flown to Florida for treatment. Police said Mr. Moïse was shot 12 times and had a punctured eye.

Within hours of the murder, police surrounded some of the suspects in the neighborhood bushes and tracked others down to a house where they lived.

But many gunmen escaped capture throughout the day.

Shortly before 9.45 p.m. that evening, the only security guard was on duty at the Taiwanese embassy, ​​about two kilometers from Mr. Moïse’s home, when 11 of the suspects arrived, the source said. The Globe does not reveal the name of the source to protect them from unwanted attention in a volatile situation.

The security guard, who was armed with a shotgun, decided he couldn’t fend off the commandos on his own. He hid in a vehicle when the men broke into the compound, the source said. Because of the tinted windows of the vehicle, the armed men did not see him.

Using his cell phone, the guard immediately called his superiors, who alerted the Taiwanese police and diplomats. The guard was able to continue relaying reports from his hidden position as commandos crowded around. At 11:40 p.m., they broke into the chancellery and moved inside. The building was empty at the time, as services were closed that day and staff were ordered to work from home.

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At 1 a.m., police surrounded the building and fired tear gas inside, but failed to chase the gunmen away.

The stalemate continued overnight and into the next day. The Haitian National Police unit in charge of diplomatic security reviewed plans for the chancellery, the source said. Members of the presidential guard were also involved in the operation.

Under international diplomatic protocol, the police also had to obtain permission from the Taiwanese government to enter the building. Haiti is one of the few countries to recognize the Republic of China in Taiwan rather than the People’s Republic of Beijing.

After Taiwanese authorities gave them the green light, police captured the compound at 3:25 p.m. Thursday and arrested the men without resistance.

The security guard, a Haitian national, was finally able to get out of the vehicle around this time.

In a statement, the government of Taiwan said it had allowed Haitian police to enter its embassy.

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“The embassy welcomes the rapid reaction of the Haitian authorities and continues, as always, to work alongside the Haitian people”, we can read in the press release, which denounces the “cruel and barbaric” murder of Mr. Moïse as “a major international event which shocked the whole world.

A Pétion-Ville judge involved in the case, Clément Noël, revealed the details of the interrogation of Mr. Solages to the newspaper Le Nouvelliste. Mr. Noël said Mr. Solages and the other Haitian-American among the suspected mercenaries, Joseph Vincent, 55, told investigators they were with the group as “translators”.

They also said they planned to “arrest” Mr. Moïse by “serving a warrant for an investigating judge” and not kill him, the newspaper said quoting Mr. Noël. Mr Solages told authorities he “found this job on the Internet,” said Noël. It was not clear which judge, according to Mr. Solages, had issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Moïse.

Le Nouvelliste said Solages said the mercenaries had been in the country for about three months before the attack. Mr Noël told the newspaper that the suspected killers were also found with Mr Moïse’s checkbook and the server containing the footage from his home security camera.

In both of his LinkedIn profiles and other information posted online, Mr. Solages has introduced himself as a man with a varied career, including as a corporate consultant, security guard, engineer and development manager.

In a biography, he wrote that he was the “Commander-in-Chief of the bodyguards of the Canadian Embassy in Haiti”. Instead, the Canadian government said he was a “reserve bodyguard”.

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His LinkedIn profiles indicated he had trained at Florida Security School, which says it offers “tactical combat training.” The profiles indicated that he worked as a building maintenance engineer for retirement homes in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Mr Solages was also chairman of the board of a charity called Fwa Sa A Jacmel Avan (“This time Jacmel first” in Creole) On Twitter he posted photos of himself and other development workers surrounded by school children, and an electricity project he said he had built in Jacmel.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you are aiming too high or expecting too much of yourself,” he wrote in his last article, in March 2020, “with both Mars, your ruler, and the Sun about to move in your favor, you should in fact expect more from yourself than ever before.

With reporting by James Griffiths in Hong Kong, Janice Dickson in Ottawa and Rick Cash in Toronto

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