A Colombian is among dozens of suspects arrested in connection with the July murder of Jovenel Moise in the Haitian capital.
US authorities have arrested a suspect in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, US media and Reuters news agency reported, citing unidentified police and government sources.
Mario Antonio Palacios is scheduled to appear in US federal court for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Miami Herald and McClatchy newspaper reported Tuesday, citing multiple US government sources.
Palacios is a former member of the Colombian army who Haitian authorities say was part of a group of mercenaries who murdered Moise in July.
The Miami Herald said Palacios – also known as “Floro” – would be the first suspect accused of participating in the Moise murder to face formal charges.
Moise, 53, was killed in the early hours of July 7, 2021, when a crew of armed men stormed his home in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.
The then Prime Minister, Claude Joseph, said at the time that the assassination was “a highly coordinated attack by a highly trained and heavily armed group”.
The murder plunged Haiti, which was already grappling with a political crisis and widespread gang violence during Moise’s years in office, into deeper instability and raised fears of further attacks among residents.
Haitian authorities have arrested dozens of people, including 18 Colombians and two Americans of Haitian origin, in connection with the assassination. But their investigation produced few concrete answers as to why Moses was killed.
Critics in Haiti have also complained about slow progress, intimidation and witness tampering in the investigation.
Palacios, 43, was arrested Monday in Panama while being deported from Jamaica to Colombia, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Palacios was arrested during a layover in Panama and asked to board a flight “voluntarily” to the United States, a Colombian immigration source told Reuters. Haiti has also issued an Interpol Red Notice for Palacios.
The Caribbean nation has faced an upsurge in gang violence and kidnappings for ransom since Moise’s assassination. Haiti also struggled to rebuild itself following a devastating earthquake in August, as residents faced crippling fuel shortages and soaring prices.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he was forced to cancel a speech on the country’s Independence Day on Saturday after gunfire erupted in the northern city of Gonaïves, about 150 km (90 miles ) from Port-au-Prince.
Local media reported that one person died and two were injured in the gunfire which forced Henry and others to go into hiding and seek shelter as they exited a cathedral, which Henry was attending at a mass.
“We cannot let bandits of all origins, driven by the lowest financial interests, blackmail the state,” said Henry, who took office as prime minister less than two weeks after Moise’s death.