Former Haitian justice ministry official Joseph Felix Badio may have ordered the assassination of Haiti's President Jovenel Moise, the head of Colombia’s national police has said, citing a preliminary investigation into the killing.
Moise was shot dead at his private residence in a suburb of Port-au-Prince before dawn on July 7.
An investigation by Haitian and Colombian authorities, alongside Interpol, into Moise's killing has revealed that Badio appeared to have given an order for the assassination three days before the attack, General Jorge Vargas said Friday at a news conference and in an audio message sent to news outlets by the police.
It was not immediately possible to reach Badio for comment. His whereabouts are unknown.
According to Vargas, the investigation found that Badio had ordered former Colombian soldiers Duberney Capador and German Rivera to kill Moise. The men had initially been contacted to carry out security services.
"Several days before, apparently three, Joseph Felix Badio, who was a former official of [Haiti's] ministry of justice, who worked in the anti-corruption unit with the general intelligence service, told Capador and Rivera that they had to assassinate the president of Haiti," Vargas said.
Vargas did not provide proof or give more details about where the information came from.
Capador was killed and Rivera was captured by Haiti police in the aftermath of Moise's killing, authorities have said.
On Sunday, Haitian authorities detained Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, widely described as a Florida-based doctor, and accused him of being one of the masterminds behind the killing.
Former Haitian Senator John Joel Joseph is being sought by police after Haiti's National Police Chief Leon Charles identified him as a key player in the plot, while Dimitri Herard, the head of palace security for Moise, has been arrested.
"This is a big plot. A lot of people are part of it," Haiti's Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said in a news conference. "I am determined to move the investigation forward."
The group of assassins included 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans, according to Haitian authorities. Eighteen of the Colombians have been captured, while five are on the run and three were killed.
Many of the Colombians accused of involvement in the assassination went to the country as bodyguards, Colombian President Ivan Duque said Thursday. That has been confirmed by relatives and colleagues of some of the detained Colombians.
"We are assisting in all the support tasks for the interviews that are being carried out with the captured Colombians," Vargas said.
Colombia will send a consular mission to Haiti as soon as it is approved by the Caribbean nation, Colombian Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez told journalists on Friday, to meet with the detained Colombians, ensure their rights are being respected, and move ahead with the repatriation of the remains of the deceased Colombians.
The ministry is in daily contact with the families of the dead and detained, Ramirez added.