Home International News Indictment of assassinated Haitian president’s widow a political hit, attorney says

Indictment of assassinated Haitian president’s widow a political hit, attorney says

23
0

An attorney for Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s widow, who was indicted in his assassination, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he believes the accusations against her are politically motivated.

U.S.-based attorney Paul Turner said he was surprised by media reports this week detailing the indictments against Martine Moïse and dozens of other suspects including the former prime minister and the ex-police chief. He also questioned whether the judge’s report is real or has been finalized, noting that Haitian government officials did not contact his client as required and that he and other attorneys are reaching out to them for clarity.

“If there is a genuine reason to talk to Martine … we can make her available if the circumstances were fair and just,” Turner said, adding that she could talk online. “Or we can meet in the U.S. where we know there’s not going to be a safety concern.”

WIDOW, AIDES TO HAITIAN PRESIDENT MOÏSE INDICTED IN HIS ASSASSINATION

Turner said he believes not everyone involved in the July 2021 assassination at Jovenel Moïse’s private residence has been arrested, and that Martine Moïse, who was injured in the attack, and her children still fear for their lives.

“She categorically denies any involvement,” he said.

Turner also accused the administration of Prime Minister Ariel Henry of ordering the indictment.

“What do they do? They indict their perceived opposition. There is definitely a perception that she would or may run in the future,” Turner said. “Nothing else makes sense.”

He said he has never talked about politics with his client and does not know if she plans to run for office.

A spokesman for the prime minister’s office did not respond to messages asking for comment.

Haiti has repeatedly delayed holding a general election as the country battles a surge in gang violence and awaits the deployment of a U.N.-backed Kenyan police force that has been delayed by legal proceedings in the East African country.

The 122-page report issued by a Haitian judge investigating the killing noted that the former secretary general of the National Palace, Lyonel Valbrun, told authorities that he received “strong pressure” from Martine Moïse to put the president’s office at the disposal of then-prime minister Claude Joseph because he needed it to “organize a council of ministers.”

According to the report, Valbrun also said that two days before her husband was killed, Martine Moïse visited the National Palace and spent nearly five hours, from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., removing “a bunch of things.”

The report says two days after the president was slain, Valbrun said Martine Moïse called to tell him that, “Jovenel didn’t do anything for us. You have to open the office. The president told Ti Klod to create a council of ministers; he will hold elections in three months so I can become president, now we will have power.”

Ti Klod is believed to be a reference to Claude Joseph, who is also indicted in the case. He has rejected the accusations and accused the current prime minister of “weaponizing” Haiti’s judicial system.

Both Joseph and Martine Moïse are accused of complicity and criminal association, while the former chief of Haiti’s National Police and other suspects are accused of more serious charges including murder.

Emmanuel Jeanty, a Haiti-based attorney for Martine Moïse, said in a letter to a local justice official and shared Wednesday with the AP that if the judge’s report is real, due process was not followed.

Turner added that Martine Moïse is expected to testify at an upcoming trial in the U.S., where federal authorities have prosecuted 11 suspects in the case. At least three of them have been sentenced.

Meanwhile, more than 40 other suspects including high-ranking Haitian police officials and 20 former Colombian soldiers remain in prison in Haiti, awaiting trial.

Read More