The assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was planned in the Dominican Republic, where three men – including a former opposition senator – were seen in a photograph huddling in a Santo Domingo hotel, Haiti’s police chief said.
The image circulating on social media shows two suspects, Dr. Christian Emmanuel Sanon and James Solages meeting with former Sen. John Joël Joseph, an opponent of Moïse’s Tet Kale party, Agence France-Presse reported.
Sanon and Solages have both been arrested while Joseph is wanted by Haitian authorities.
Haitian national police director Léon Charles said the photo was snapped as the trio was in the Dominican capital plotting to kill Moïse, whose body was found riddled with bullets on July 7 in the bedroom of his home in the hills above Port-au-Prince.
“They met in a hotel in Santo Domingo,” Charles told reporters. “Around the table there are the architects of the plot, a technical recruitment team and a finance group.”
He added: “Some individuals in the photo have already been apprehended, such as Dr. Christian Emmanuel Sanon and James Solages.”
Police said Solages, a Haitian-American, coordinated with Miami-based Venezuelan company CTU Security as part of the plot, according to AFP.
“The head of the firm, Antonio Emmanuel Intriago Valera, is in the picture,” Charles said. “He entered Haiti several times to plan the assassination.”
Charles has said that CTU Security used its company credit card to buy 19 plane tickets from Bogota, Colombia, to Santo Domingo for the Colombian suspects allegedly involved in the assassination.
Charles said that Florida-based financial services company Worldwide Capital Lending Group funded the attack, adding that its boss, Walter Veintemilla, also appears with the alleged plotters.
Two Americans of Haitian descent and 26 Colombians allegedly took part in the assassination. Three of the Colombians were killed and 18 arrested by Haitian police.
Those who were captured insist that they were contracted to capture Moïse and hand him over to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, Colombian authorities said Thursday.
Colombian police chief Jorge Vargas said the alleged mercenaries believed the initial idea was “to plan the arrest of the president and make him available… to the DEA.”
“There was a group of four (mercenaries) who were already in the country. The others entered on June 6. They went through the Dominican Republic. We traced the credit card that was used to buy the plane tickets,” Charles said.
“They are former Colombian special force operatives. They are experts, criminals. This was a well-planned attack,” he added.
Four presidential security officials have been placed in solitary confinement at the police headquarters, including Dimitri Herard, the head of Moïse personal security detail and three others.
Two dozen others were subject to inquiries, Charles said.
Haiti has called on the US — which has trained Colombian troops in the past — for help in shedding light on who was behind the deadly plot.
On Thursday, the Pentagon confirmed that some of the suspects had been trained by the US military.
“A review of our training databases indicates that a small number of the Colombian individuals detained as part of this investigation had participated in past US military training and education programs, while serving as active members of the Colombian military forces,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman said, adding that the review was “ongoing.”
President Joe Biden on Thursday said he will send US Marines to bolster security at its embassy in Haiti but that deploying American troops to stabilize the country is “not on the agenda.”
Meanwhile, Haiti forcefully pushed back against reports that current government officials were involved in the assassination.
Charles denied a report from Caracol news, a Colombian-based private TV station, that claimed interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph was the mastermind.
“The police warns of all propaganda creating a diversion,” he said, adding that the government has no evidence to support those claims.
With Post wires