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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

US officials arrest four more people over assassination of Haitian president

US officials arrest four more people over assassination of Haitian president

Suspects include the owner of a Miami-area security company that hired ex-Colombian soldiers for the mission, DoJ says
US authorities have arrested four more people in the assassination of the Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, including the owner of a Miami-area security company that hired ex-Colombian soldiers for the mission, the justice department announced on Tuesday.

Antonio “Tony” Intriago, owner of CTU Security, is charged with conspiracy to kill or kidnap a person outside the US among other charges, along with company representative Arcangel Pretel Ortiz.

The Florida-based US financier Walter Veintemilla is accused of funding the operation. A fourth suspect, Frederick Joseph Bergmann Jr, is accused of smuggling goods.

A squad of former Colombian soldiers hired by CTU are among suspects who carried out the July 2021 assassination. Although CTU is accused of organizing the mission, the motives and ultimate masterminds of the attack remain unclear.

Tama Kudman, Veintemilla’s attorney, told the Associated Press that he would plead not guilty to both charges.

Claude Joseph, who was serving as prime minister when Moïse was killed, cheered the announcement. “Justice must prevail,” he tweeted, along with a picture of the US government’s press release.

Earlier this month, the president’s widow, Martine Moïse, who was shot during the attack but survived, called for the creation of a special UN tribunal to investigate the assassination, saying the case had been blocked for 19 months.

“The killers are out there,” she said.

A total of 11 suspects are now in US custody, James Solages and Joseph Vincent, two Haitian Americans who were among the first arrested after Moïse was shot 12 times at his private home in July 2021. Other suspects include Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a pastor and failed businessman whose associates have suggested he was duped by the real masterminds who have yet to be arrested.

Authorities have said that the original plan was to detain Moïse, force him on to a plane and whisk him to an unidentified location, but that plot crumbled when suspects couldn’t find a plane or sufficient weapons, according to court documents.

A day before the killing, Solages falsely told other suspects that it was a CIA operation and that the real mission was to kill the president. Shortly before Moïse was killed, Solages yelled that it was supposedly a DEA operation so that the president’s security detail would comply.

Also detained are the former Haitian senator John Joël Joseph, who had fled to Jamaica, and former US government informant and Haitian businessman Rodolphe Jaar, who was extradited from the Dominican Republic.

As the US investigation into the July 2021 assassination of Moïse pushes forward, the investigation in Haiti is nearly idle. Three judges have stepped down from the case amid fears they will be killed and a fourth one was dismissed.

Meanwhile, no court hearings have been held yet for the more than 40 suspects arrested in Haiti, with many of them including 18 Colombian soldiers languishing in a severely overcrowded jail in Port-au-Prince that often lacks food and water.
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