(Update 1: New information from press conference, complete re-write throughout)
Port-au-Prince, Jul 8 (EFE).- Haitian authorities have arrested 15 Colombians and two Haitian Americans for their suspected involvement in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, officials announced Thursday.
The group that perpetrated the killing was made up of 26 Colombians and the two Americans, according to police chief León Charles at a press conference with Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph in which they presented the detainees.
Charles said eight Colombian “mercenaries” are on the run and are “actively” wanted, while three were killed in shootouts with security forces.
Authorities had previously reported the deaths of four suspects, but lowered this number without explanation.
A group of civilians captured two of those arrested, who were taken tied with ropes to a police station in the Pétion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.
Dozens of people gathered there with the intention of lynching the suspects, and set fire to three cars seized by the police.
The murder of Moïse, which occurred early Wednesday morning, has caused international outrage and has led the Haitian government to declare a state of siege for a period of 15 days.
First lady Martine Moïse, who was injured in the attack, was “out of danger” Wednesday after being transferred to a hospital in Miami.
In September 2019, thousands took to the streets to call for Moïse’s resignation amid widespread corruption, fuel shortages, hunger and insecurity in the impoverished country.
Moïse’s assassination came two months before presidential and legislative elections slated for Sept. 26.
The 53-year-old would have been ineligible to run, but authorities scheduled a referendum on a new constitution on the same day. Moïse backed the measure, saying it was needed to strengthen the powers of the president, but it was unpopular with the opposition and the international community.
The opposition said that Moïse should have handed over power in February of this year, or five years after Haiti’s previous president, Michel Martelly, had left office. EFE