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Haiti police say suspect flew into country with alleged hitmen

Haiti police say suspect flew into country with alleged hitmen

Police in Haiti say they have arrested another suspect in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse who they accused of flying into the country on a private jet accompanied by several of the alleged gunmen.

The suspect was identified by police as Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian in his 60s living in Florida who describes himself as a doctor and has accused his homeland’s leaders of corruption.

The head of Haiti’s police, Léon Charles, accused Sanon of working with those who plotted and participated in Moïse’s killing, which plunged the nation of more than 11 million people into uncertainty. He gave no information on the purported masterminds, but claimed Moïse’s alleged killers were protecting the chief suspect as someone with ambitions to be Haiti’s president.

Charles said that among the items found by officers at Sanon’s house in Haiti were a hat emblazoned with the logo of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, 20 boxes of bullets, gun parts, four vehicle licence plates from the Dominican Republic, two cars and correspondence with unidentified people.

Haitian authorities claim a 28-member hit squad stormed Moïse’s presidential compound in the early hours of last Wednesday before shooting him dead – a sensational narrative coming under increasing scrutiny, both in Haiti and overseas.

The sister of one of the alleged hitmen, a retired member of Colombia’s special forces called Duberney Capador, told journalists at the weekend that her 40-year-old brother was not a paid assassin but had travelled to Port-au-Prince after being hired by a private security firm to help protect “important people”.

“He’s no mercenary, he’s a good man,” Jenny Capador said in an interview with the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.

Charles said Sanon was in contact with a firm that provides security for politicians and recruited the suspects in the killing, and that he accompanied several of the alleged hitmen on a flight into Haiti.

The gunmen’s initial mission was to protect Sanon, but they later received a new order to arrest the president, Charles said. “The operation started from there,” he said, adding that an additional 22 suspects joined the group and that contact was made with Haitian citizens.

Eighteen Colombians have been arrested so far, along with three Haitians. Charles said five of the suspects were still at large and at least three had been killed, including Capador.

“They are dangerous individuals,” Charles said. “I’m talking commando, specialised commando.”

Charles said that after Moïse was killed, one of the suspects phoned Sanon, who then got in touch with two people believed to be the intellectual authors of the plot. He did not identify the masterminds or say if police knew who they are.

The chief said Haitian authorities obtained the information from interrogations and other parts of the investigation. He added that police were working with high-ranking Colombian officials to identify details of the alleged plot, including when the suspects left Colombia and who paid for their tickets.

Sanon has lived in Florida, in Broward County and in Hillsborough County on the Gulf Coast. Records show he also lived in Kansas City, Missouri. He filed for bankruptcy in 2013 and identifies himself as a doctor in a video on YouTube titled “Leadership for Haiti”.

In the video, he denounces the leaders of Haiti as corrupt, accusing them of stripping the country of its resources, saying that “they don’t care about the country, they don’t care about the people”.

He claims Haiti has uranium, oil and other resources that have been taken by government officials.

“This is a country with resources,” he said. “Nine million people can’t be in poverty when we have so much resources in the country. It’s impossible … The world has to stop doing what they are doing right now. We can’t take it any more. We need new leadership that will change the way of life.”

Sanon has posted little on Twitter but has expressed an interest in Haitian politics. In September 2010, he tweeted: “Just completed a successful conference in Port-au-Prince. Many people from the opposition attended.” A month later, he wrote: “Back to Haiti for an important meeting regarding the election. Pray for me for protection and wisdom.”

Sanon’s arrest came as a growing number of politicians challenge the interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, who is currently in charge of Haiti with help from police and the military.

While the streets were calm on Sunday, government officials worry about what lies ahead and have requested US and UN military assistance.

The Pentagon’s chief spokesperson, John Kirby, said on Fox News Sunday that the Pentagonwas analysing the request to send troops to Haiti and that no decisions had been made. He said a team, largely comprising agents from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, were heading to Haiti to help with the investigation of the assassination.

“I think that’s really where are our energies are best applied right now, in helping them get their arms around investigating this incident and figuring out who’s culpable, who’s responsible and how best to hold them accountable going forward,” Kirby said.

Associated Press contributed to this report


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