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Head of Security of Haiti’s Presidential Palace in Police Custody

A police officer stands at an intersection in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 14, 2021.

The head of security at the Haitian presidential palace has been taken into custody as part of the investigation of July 7 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise.

A close associate of Dimitri Herard said Herard was detained Wednesday. CNN said Herard failed to appear before a court inquiry ordered by the public prosecutor of Port-au-Prince because he had been summoned by police for questioning.

Moise was killed during a predawn attack on his private residence in a wealthy suburb of the Haitian capital that also left his wife, Martine, seriously wounded. National Police Chief Leon Charles said 18 Colombians and three Haitians have been arrested in connection with the attack, including 63-year-old Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian-born man based in the U.S. state of Florida who police believe is the mastermind behind the plot to kill Moise. Charles said Sanon arrived in Haiti on a private plane in early June with some of the Colombians.

An official with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration told VOA in an emailed statement that one of the suspects in custody was a confidential source to the agency.

A manhunt continues for several more suspects, including a man identified by The Associated Press as John Joel Joseph, a former senator in opposition to Moise’s Tet Kale party.

U.S. President Joe Biden has dispatched a special delegation to Haiti to assist with the investigation.

Moise’s killing has created a leadership vacuum in the troubled Caribbean nation. He had named neurosurgeon Ariel Henry to the post of prime minister to replace Claude Joseph, who was serving in the post on an interim basis while also serving as foreign minister. But Henry was not sworn in before the assassination, and Joseph has declared himself acting prime minister.

A commission made up of representatives of all sectors of Haitian civil society plans to meet Thursday to sign a political accord that will name a new president.

Joseph, as acting prime minister, had requested the United States deploy troops to Haiti to protect key infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Haiti received 500,000 doses of the two-shot Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday. The doses were donated by the U.S. through the United Nations-led COVAX global vaccine sharing initiative. Through the initiative, vaccines are distributed to low- and middle-income countries.

Haiti has reported 19,374 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 487 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Some information for this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.