Haiti’s top prosecutor fired after trying to charge PM for assassination

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Haiti's top prosecutor fired after trying to charge PM for assassination

Haiti’s chief prosecutor tried to get new Prime Minister Ariel Henry charged over the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse — but was instead fired by the leading politician hours later.

Port-au-Prince’s then-prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude on Tuesday filed a court petition with a judge seeking charges against Henry as well as an order barring him from leaving the troubled nation.

“There are enough compromising elements … to prosecute Henry and ask for his outright indictment,” Claude wrote of the PM, who he said had met with a key suspect twice within hours of Moïse’s slaying.

Claude was instead quickly fired by Henry and immediately replaced Tuesday by Frantz Louis Juste.

Haiti's General Prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude arrives at the courthouse to preside a hearing following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti July 14, 2021.
Haiti’s General Prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude arrives at the courthouse to preside over a hearing following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti July 14, 2021.
REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo

The prosecutor had asked Henry to explain why he had two phone conversations with Joseph Badio just hours after the July 7 killing of Moïse at his home. Badio was fired from the government’s anti-corruption unit in May and remains a fugitive wanted over the assassination.

Before he was fired, Claude also reported a series of “important and disturbing” threats made against him in the past five days.

Moïse had appointed Henry as prime minister shortly before he was killed at his home in an attack that also seriously wounded his wife, Martine Moïse.

More than 40 suspects have been arrested in the case, including 18 former Colombian soldiers, some based in Florida. Authorities are still looking for additional suspects, including Badio and a former Haitian senator.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry speaks during a ceremony at La Primature in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 20, 2021
Haiti’s top prosecutor said on September 14, 2021 he was seeking charges against Prime Minister Ariel Henry for the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
VALERIE BAERISWYL/AFP via Getty Images

Brian Concannon, an adviser for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, noted that the decision on whether to investigate Henry rested on Judge Garry Orélien, no matter which prosecutor was in office.

“A lot of this is theater,” Concannon told the Associated Press.

However, Orélien was only appointed to oversee the case last month — after the previous judge stepped down after one of his assistants died in unclear circumstances.

The accusations against Henry further fractured Haiti’s already rocky government, with one top official resigning Wednesday as he accused the prime minister of obstructing justice in a sharply worded letter.

A person holds a photo of late Haitian President Jovenel Moise, who was shot dead earlier this month, during his funeral at his family home in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, July 23, 2021
A person holds a photo of late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who was shot dead, during his funeral at his family home in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, July 23, 2021.
REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo/File Photo

Rénald Luberice, who served more than four years as secretary general of Haiti’s Council of Ministers, said he cannot remain under the direction of someone who is under suspicion and who “does not intend to cooperate with justice, seeking, on the contrary, by all means, to obstruct it.”

Henry has not spoken publicly on the issue this week, saying only that he is focused on stabilizing Haiti and would not be distracted by summons, maneuvers or threats.

With Post wires

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