Colombian indicted in the United States for his role in the assassination of the Haitian president

Six months after the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse at his residence in Port-au-Prince, which exacerbated the country’s political crisis, a Colombian was indicted in the United States for his role in the assassination. Mario Palacios, 43, is accused of being part of the group of about twenty men who, on July 7, 2021, killed Jovenel Moïse and seriously injured his wife in their private residence, located on the heights of the Haitian capital .

Although around 40 people, including around 20 Colombian nationals, have been detained in Port-au-Prince prison since this summer, the investigation into the attack against the head of state shows no sign of progress, the identities of the sponsors remaining unknown.

A suspected member of the commando group that murdered Jovenel Moïse, Mario Palacios was arrested Monday in Panama during a stopover on a flight from Jamaica where he was arrested in October. After collaborating with US investigators, Mario Palacios was being deported to Colombia when he was intercepted on Monday. The man, who faces life imprisonment, was to be brought before a judge on Tuesday.

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The Haitian Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, reacting to this indictment, said he wanted “May justice triumph for the villainous assassination of Jovenel Moïse, not only for the former president, but also for his family as well as our nation”.

Under the influence of an Interpol red notice for “Murder and complicity in murder”, Mario Palacios was recruited in June 2021 to arrest and kidnap the Haitian president, according to the US federal police. The plan would then have changed and the group, under the leadership of a man identified as “Conspirator number one”, would have been responsible for killing Jovenel Moïse. This man, with dual Haitian and American nationality, is in detention in Haiti.

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Unanswered questions

Mario Palacios to “Accepted voluntary extradition” to the United States and embarked Monday evening on a flight to Miami, according to the head of the Panamanian migration services, Samira Gozaine. For lack of sufficient evidence provided by the authorities in Port-au-Prince, the Jamaican justice had previously rejected the extradition request issued by Haiti.

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The Caribbean country, faced with great poverty, remains undermined by the growing power of armed gangs, which are interfering in the political crisis. On Saturday, the official national day ceremonies came to an end after clashes between police and armed groups in the city of Gonaïves, 150 km from Port-au-Prince. Ariel Henry, appointed by Jovenel Moïse two days before his murder and who is in charge of current affairs, denounced an assassination attempt against his person, claiming to feel “In people’s sights”.

The murder of Jovenel Moïse, which shocked the country, raised a number of questions that still remain unanswered. That an armed commando was able to penetrate into the room of the presidential couple, without any police officer of his close guard being injured, astonishes the population who live daily under the threat of villainous kidnappings committed by gangs.

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The World with AFP

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Colombian indicted in the United States for his role in the assassination of the Haitian president

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