Port-au-Prince, Jul 21 (EFE).- Haitian authorities have 26 people in custody in connection with the July 7 slaying of President Jovenel Moise, but many are skeptical about the claim that the plot was masterminded by an obscure figure with no history of participation in politics.
The assassination, according to the official account, was carried out by a team of 26 Colombian mercenaries who stormed Moise’s private residence in the exclusive Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Pelerin 5.
Moise’s security detail offered no resistance to the assailants, who identified themselves to security guards as agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The president was killed and first lady Martine Moise was badly wounded. She returned to Haiti last weekend after being treated at a hospital in Miami.
Eighteen of the 26 suspects being held here are Colombians, most of them veterans of their country’s armed forces.
The Pentagon disclosed that several of the Colombian ex-soldiers had taken part in US training programs, while the DEA acknowledged that it had employed some of the suspects as informants.
The eight Haitians in custody include two police officers and a number of individuals who are citizens of both Haiti and the United States.
Three other Colombian nationals died in gun battles with police following the crime.
Authorities have issued warrants for another 10 suspects, while presidential security chief Dimitri Herard and 22 members of Moise’s security detail are under investigation.
The most prominent among the fugitives is Joseph Felix Badio, a former justice ministry official with ties to Haiti’s intelligence service who is thought to have coordinated the hiring of the mercenaries and the logistics of the assassination.
Colombia said that one of the Colombian ex-soldiers in custody in Haiti told interrogators that Badio informed them their mission was to kill Moise.
The Colombians maintained that after initially telling them they would be providing security for the president, Badio revealed after they arrived in Haiti that they had been recruited to carry out an arrest of Moise.
Officials in Florida are looking into Venezuelan expat Antonio Emmanuel Intriago Valera, whose Miami-based CTU Security firm is thought to have been involved in hiring the mercenaries.
The man Haiti accuses of organizing the assassination, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, is behind bars in Port-au-Prince.
Sanon, a 62-year-old evangelical pastor and doctor who has long lived in South Florida, said in a YouTube video that he aspired to lead the country of his birth.
Yet he is virtually unknown in Haiti and many have asked where the pastor, who declared bankruptcy in the US, would have found the money to hire gunmen and organize a coup.
Sanon, according to Haitian police, arrived in the country last month aboard a private plane along with some of the gunmen, but friends have suggested to US media outlets that the conspirators set up the pastor to be the fall guy.
Haitian police have not provided a timeline for the hours leading up to the assassination or released the footage from the security cameras at Moise’s residence. EFE