Widow Of Former Haitian President Receives Indictment Over His Assassination

New Haitian President Jovenel Moise is seen with his wife at the Te Deum during his inauguration ceremony at the National Palace, after receiving his sash in a ceremony at the Haitian Parliament, in Port-au-Prince, on February 7, 2017. Jovenel Moise was sworn in Tuesday as Haiti’s 58th president, ending a protracted electoral crisis that had created a vacuum of power in the impoverished, disaster-prone Caribbean nation. Moise, a 48-year-old banana exporter who has never held political office, took the oath at a ceremony at the National Assembly. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Three years after Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated, a judge handed down indictments to 51 people, including his widow, Martine Moïse, former Prime Minister Claude Joseph and ex-chief of police Léon Charles.

President Moïse was killed in July of 2021 when 28 foreign mercenaries, majority of whom were Colombian, raided his Port-au-Prince home. During the attack, his widow Martine was also shot, but she was otherwise unharmed.

The indictments are the culmination of almost three years’ worth of efforts. Walther Wesser Voltaire issued the final 122-page report listing out the charges and indictments. Of note, Voltaire was “the fifth judge to lead the investigation after previous ones stepped down” fearing for their lives and those of their families.

“We were able to discover with insight the degree of participation and the role of each of the groups of delinquents who joined together under the influence of Machiavellian plans developed between authors, co-authors, accomplices and henchmen for the purposes of assassinating President Jovenel Moïse,” said Monday’s report per CBS.  

Charles faces the worst of the charges: “murder; attempted murder; possession and illegal carrying of weapons; conspiracy against the internal security of the state; and criminal association.”

Ms. Moïse and Joseph also are facing complicity and criminal association charges, as they were both “accused of knowing about the risk to the president before the assassination” occurred.

According to the indictment, “Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian-American pastor who visualized himself as Haiti’s next president…Joseph Vincent, a Haitian-American and former informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Dimitri Hérard, presidential security chief; John Joël Joseph, a former Haitian senator; and Windelle Coq, a Haitian senator whom authorities say is a fugitive,” are now facing murder charges.

In the immediate aftermath of the president’s assassination, Haiti was plunged “into political turmoil.” Volker Türk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights pointed out the alarming statistics. The data from Jan. 2024 in Haiti reveals that over 800 people “were killed, injured or kidnapped,” which is “more than three times the number compared with the same month” a year prior in 2023.

Unfortunately, “[t]he indictments are expected to further destabilize Haiti as it struggles with a surge in gang violence and recovers from a spate of violent protests demanding the resignation of current Prime Minister Ariel Henry,” the Associated Press reports.

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