Haitian Judge Charges Fifty People, Including President’s Widow and Former Prime Minister, in Assassination Investigation

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A Haitian judge leading the investigation into the 2021 assassination of the country’s president has charged around fifty individuals, including the late president’s widow and a former prime minister, based on a leaked document.

According to the leaked 122-page document from Judge Walther Wesser Voltaire, the late president’s widow Martine Moise and former Prime Minister Claude Joseph are accused of conspiring to kill the president in order to seize power. The president, Jovenel Moise, was fatally shot when armed men entered his bedroom in Port-au-Prince on July 7, 2021, leaving the former first lady injured.

The judge’s order calls for the arrest and trial of those charged. Neither the former first lady nor Joseph responded immediately to requests for comment. Both Moise and Joseph have criticized the arrests and perceive them as political persecutions. Joseph has accused the current Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, of using the Haitian justice system to persecute opponents, describing it as a “classic coup d’etat.”

Prime Minister Ariel Henry was appointed to replace Joseph shortly before the president’s assassination and has postponed elections indefinitely due to a devastating earthquake and the rising influence of heavily-armed criminal gangs. The gangs now control most of the capital, and Kenya is preparing to lead a UN-ratified international force to assist Haitian police. However, prior abuses by foreign missions and allegations against Henry’s government have made countries hesitant to offer their support.

In addition to the local investigation, a separate case related to Moise’s killing is being tried in Miami. Six of the 11 defendants have pleaded guilty to a plot to send Colombian mercenaries to kidnap Moise, which was later changed to a plot to murder him. The conspirators allegedly planned to replace Moise with a Haitian-American pastor.

The developments in the investigation shed light on the complex and tumultuous political situation in Haiti following the assassination, as well as the challenges in addressing the country’s security and governance issues.