Sat | Mar 25, 2023

US charges four in killing of Haiti’s president

Published:Friday | February 3, 2023 | 12:18 AM
Suspects in the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise, among them Haitian-American citizens James Solages (left), and Joseph Vincent (second left), are shown to the media at the general direction of the police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July
Suspects in the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise, among them Haitian-American citizens James Solages (left), and Joseph Vincent (second left), are shown to the media at the general direction of the police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 8, 2021.

MIAMI (AP):

Four key suspects in the killing of Haiti’s president appeared for the first time in US federal court Wednesday to face accusations that they plotted and participated in his assassination, a day after they were transferred to the United States for prosecution.

Haitian-Americans James Solages, Joseph Vincent and Christian Emmanuel Sanon and Colombian citizen Germán Rivera García looked calm as they entered a federal court in Miami wearing beige prisoner uniforms with their hands and ankles shackled.

They did not speak at the hearing, except to petition for a public defender when Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes asked each of them if they can afford to pay an attorney.

“I would appreciate it if the court would appoint a counsellor,” said Solages, the second of the defendants called by the judge to listen to the charges. He, like each of them, answered “no” when the judge asked if they have work, savings or property.

The judge appointed a different attorney for each of them.

Solages, 37, Vincent, 57, and Rivera, 44, were among the first arrested after Jovenel Moïse was shot 12 times at his private home near the capital of Port-au-Prince on July 7, 2021. All three are accused of conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside the US and providing material support and resources resulting in death.

Sanon, a pastor, doctor and failed businessman, 54, is charged with conspiring to smuggle goods from the United States, and cause export information not to be filed, as well as with smuggling goods from the United States and providing unlawful export information. Court documents state that he allegedly shipped 20 ballistic vests to Haiti, but that the items shipped were described as “medical X-ray vests and school supplies.”

If convicted, Solages, Vincent and Rivera face up to life imprisonment. Sanon, whose associates have suggested he was deceived by the real and still unidentified masterminds behind the assassination, faces up to 20 years if convicted.