PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti’s national police chief announced on Sunday that officers have arrested a Haitian accused of flying into the country on a private jet and of working with brains and alleged assassins behind the murder of President Jovenel Moïse.
Police Chief Leon Charles identified the suspect as Christian Emmanuel Sanon, without giving any personal information about him, although he appears to have lived in Florida. The chief also gave no information about the alleged brains.
Charles said the suspected killers were protecting Sanon as the alleged president of Haiti, adding that officers found several items in his home, including a hat with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration logo, 20 boxes of bullets, gun parts, four car licenses. Dominican Republic license plates, two cars and correspondence with unidentified persons.
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“We continue to make progress,” Charles said of police efforts to resolve Wednesday morning’s brazen attack on Moïse’s private home that killed the president and seriously injured his wife, Martine Moïse, who was airlifted to Miami and remains hospitalized.
Charles said a total of 26 Colombians are believed to have killed the president. Eighteen of them were arrested, as well as three Haitians. He said five of the suspects were still at large and at least three had been killed.
“They are dangerous individuals,” he said. “I’m talking about a commando, a specialized commando.”
The chief said police were working with high-ranking Colombian officials to identify details of the alleged plot, including when the suspects left Colombia and who paid for their tickets.
Charles said Sanon was in contact with a company that provides security for politicians and recruited the suspects, adding that the suspect traveled to Haiti with them in early June. The men’s original mission was to protect Sanon, but they received a new one later: arrest the president, the chief said.
“The operation started from there,” he said, adding that 22 additional suspects joined the group and that contacts were made with Haitian citizens.
Charles said that after Moses’ death, one of the suspects telephoned Sanon, who then contacted two people believed to be the intellectual authors of the plot. He did not identify the brains or say whether the police knew who they were.
The chief said Haitian authorities obtained the information during interrogations and other parts of the investigation.
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It was not immediately clear if Sanon had a lawyer.
Sanon has lived in Florida, Broward County and Hillsborough County on the Gulf Coast. Records show he also lived in Kansas City, Missouri. He filed for bankruptcy in 2013 and identifies himself as a doctor in a YouTube video titled “Leadership for Haiti”.
In the video, he denounces Haiti’s rulers as corrupt, accusing them of stripping the country of its resources, saying “they don’t care about the country, they don’t care about the people.”
He claims Haiti has uranium, oil and other resources that were taken by government officials. “With me in power, you’re going to have to tell me, ‘What are you doing with my uranium? What are you doing with the oil that we have in the country? What are you going to do with it? ‘gold ?'”
He also added: “It is a country with resources. Nine million people cannot be in poverty when we have so many resources in the country. It is impossible. … The world must stop doing what it is. ‘They are doing now. We can’t take it anymore. We need new leadership that will change the way of life. “
Sanon posted little on Twitter but expressed an interest in Haitian politics. In September 2010, he tweeted: “I just finished a successful conference in Port-au-Prince. Many people from the opposition attended. A month later he wrote: “Back in Haiti for an important meeting regarding the election. Pray for me for protection and wisdom.
The announcement of Sanon’s arrest came hours after hundreds of Haitians sought solace in prayer during Sunday morning church services as a political power struggle threatened to further destabilize their country brittle.
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Leaders of Catholic and Protestant churches have called for calm and told people to stand strong as concern for the future grows, with authorities providing no answer or theory on the perpetrator of the murder by a group of men armed early Wednesday at the president’s home. Martine Moïse, the president’s wife, was seriously injured and was transported to Miami for treatment.
“Faced with this situation, we will not be discouraged… You must stay and fight for peace,” said Father Edwine Sainte-Louis during a sermon broadcast on television which included a small photo of Moses with a banner. who said: “Haiti will remember.”
Prosecutors have called on prominent political figures, including presidential candidate Reginald Boulos and former President of the Haitian Senate Youri Latortue, to meet with officials for questioning as the investigation continues. Authorities also said they plan to question at least two members of Moses’ security.
Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph currently rules Haiti with the help of the police and the military, but he faces increasing challenges for his power.
Ariel Henry, whom Moses named as prime minister a day before his assassination, said he believed he was the legitimate prime minister, a claim also supported by a group of lawmakers who were members of Moses’ Tet Kale party. This group also supports Joseph Lambert, head of the dismantled Senate of Haiti, as the country’s provisional president.
Haiti, a country of over 11 million people, currently has only 10 elected after failing to hold legislative elections, leading Moïse to rule by decree for more than a year until his death.
As the streets were quiet on Sunday, government officials are worried about what to expect and have requested military assistance from the United States and the UN.
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“We still believe there is a way for chaos to happen,” Haitian election minister Mathias Pierre told The Associated Press.
Pentagon chief spokesman John Kirby told Fox News on Sunday that the Pentagon was analyzing the request to send troops to Haiti and no decision had been made. He said a team, largely made up of agents from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, was visiting Haiti “right now” to help with the assassination investigation.
“I think this is really where our energies are best applied right now, to help them mobilize to investigate this incident and determine who is to blame, who is responsible and how to hold them accountable in the future. “Kirby said.
The United Nations has been involved in Haiti on and off since 1990. The last UN peacekeeping mission arrived in 2004 and all military peacekeepers left the country in 2017. But a stabilization group remained. on site to train the national police, help the government strengthen the judicial and legal system. institutions and monitor human rights. This mission ended in 2019 and was replaced by a political mission led by an American diplomat, Helen La Lime.
In addition to helping normalize the country, the UN peacekeeping force played an important role after the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people and after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. But Nepal’s UN troops are widely blamed for inadvertently introducing cholera, which has afflicted over 800,000 people and killed over 9,000 since 2010. Some troops have also been implicated in sexual abuse. , especially against hungry young children.
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Laurent Dubois, an expert from Haiti and professor at Duke University, said questions about Moses’ assassination could go unanswered for a long time.
“There are so many potential actors who could be behind,” he said, adding that the political strength of Pierre, the acting prime minister, is an open question. “There are going to be maneuvers for positions of power. This is a big worry.”
In Port-au-Prince, resident Fritz Destin hosted a sermon from a priest urging people not to be discouraged.
“The country needs a lot of prayers,” he said. “Violence makes life a little uncertain.
Fox reported from Washington. AP writer Evens Sanon in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and AP video journalist Gerardo Carrillo in Port-au-Prince contributed to this report.
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