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Ex-Official: Haitian Government Lacks Will to Pursue Moise Assassination Suspects

Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph stand before delivering his speach during the appointment of Ariel Henry as the new Prime Minister in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 20, 2021
Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph stand before delivering his speach during the appointment of Ariel Henry as the new Prime Minister in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 20, 2021

Haiti's former Foreign Minister Claude Joseph is accusing the government of “lacking the political will to arrest those responsible” for the slaying of President Jovenel Moise.

Joseph made the accusation Tuesday while exiting a courthouse in Port-au-Prince, where Judge Garry Orelien had summoned him to answer questions in connection with the slaying. The visit was brief; the judge announced he was not ready to hear Joseph’s deposition.

Joseph told VOA he would answer the judge’s questions anytime, adding that Orelien should also summon all those who were implicated in the alleged assassination plot, including those named in a December 12 New York Times article containing new revelations about Moise’s case.

“We hope this is a serious investigation,” Joseph told VOA. “And if this is a serious investigation, we invite the judge to summon all those who are implicated as well as those named in The New York Times article.”

According to The New York Times, Moise may have been killed because he had compiled a list of Haitian officials and businessmen who were involved in illegal drug trafficking as well as arms trafficking. The Times reported that Moise intended to hand the list of names over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

VOA Creole contacted the prime minister’s office for comment Tuesday on the allegation but did not receive a response.

The Haitian National Police have arrested 40 suspects in connection with the case, including former Colombian army soldiers, Haitian Americans and Haitian police officers.

Joseph told VOA Tuesday that the prime minister had done nothing to move forward with the extradition from Turkey of Samir Handal, a wealthy Haitian businessman who was arrested at the Istanbul airport on November 16 by Turkish authorities. Interpol had posted a Red Alert for Handal. Joseph said he had personally contacted the Turkish foreign minister to request Handal be arrested upon arrival. The businessman is currently detained in a Turkish jail.

“What I can tell you is that even though I’m no longer part of the government, they have done everything they can to distance me from this. I don’t regret anything. I will continue fighting. On the 19th, I received from Turkey a request for a series of documents they need so they can return Samir Handal to us,” Joseph told VOA. “After less than 72 hours, I wrote the minister of justice [asking him] to do everything necessary to send those documents to Turkey. Up until today, there has been no political will to arrest those responsible.”

Joseph added that “The government led by Ariel Henry has made no effort to bring Samir Handal back to Haiti for questioning. That is what I call political will.”

After Handal’s arrest, the Haitian National Police announced they would send three agents to Turkey to take custody of Handal and bring him back to Haiti for questioning.

So far, that has not happened.

Joseph also decried the fact the government did nothing to follow up on his effort to have Jamaica extradite to Haiti a Colombian suspect arrested for illegal entry.

The Haitian police issued an arrest warrant for Jose Antonio Palacios Palacios, a former Colombian military member, in connection with Moise's death. Jamaica said it would transfer Palacios to Colombian custody because the island does not have an extradition treaty with Haiti.

“No effort has been made to request the transfer of Palacios Palacios, which I initiated,” Joseph told VOA.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry also has been linked to the Moise case. A judge announced that phone records obtained by law enforcement officials indicated he had spoken to a key suspect in the crime multiple times on the day of Moise’s death. In an interview with the Associated Press, Henry denied the accusation.

This story originated in VOA’s Creole Service.