Haiti requests US troops after president’s assassination, as more details of suspects emerge

Haiti’s interim government has asked the US to deploy troops to protect key infrastructure as it tries to stabilise the country and prepare the way for elections in the aftermath of President Jovenel Moise’s assassination.

“We definitely need assistance and we’ve asked our international partners for help,” Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph told The Associated Press.

“We believe our partners can assist the national police in resolving the situation.”

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Haiti is in a state of turmoil after the impoverished country’s president was shot dead in his home

But US President Joe Biden’s administration has so far given no indication it will provide military assistance to the Caribbean island.

For now, it only plans to send FBI officials to assist with the ongoing investigation into a crime that has plunged Haiti into a destabilising battle for power and constitutional stand-off.

Colombia will also send its national intelligence directorate and intelligence director for the National Police to help Interpol with its investigations, President Ivan Dunque wrote on Twitter.

Police in Haiti say Mr Moise was executed by a commando unit of 26 Colombian and two Haitian-American mercenaries.

Several of the suspects were paraded at a media briefing on Thursday. Pic: AP
Several of the suspects were paraded at a media briefing on Thursday. Pic: AP

Seventeen of them were captured and paraded in front of journalists at a news conference in Port-au-Prince on Thursday.

National Police chief Leon Charles said the two Americans – James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55 – had come from Florida.

One of them had worked as a bodyguard at the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince, he added.

FILE PHOTO: Jovenel Moise addresses the media next to his wife Martine after winning Haiti's 2016 presidential election
FILE PHOTO: Jovenel Moise addresses the media next to his wife Martine after winning the 2016 presidential election, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Picture taken November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jeanty Junior Augustin/File Photo
Jovenel Moise was found dead at his home in the early hours of Wednesday

Colombian investigators have said that 17 of the suspects had retired from the Colombian army between 2018 and 2020.

Jorge Luis Vargas, director of Colombia’s National Police, said 11 of the suspected Colombian mercenaries had travelled to Haiti via Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

Two others flew from Panama to the Dominican capital Santo Domingo before landing in Port-au-Prince, he said.

Pic: AP
Guns and passports were also shown at Thursday’s news conference. Pic: AP

Solage and Vincent were among the 17 captured following a gun battle with Haitian authorities near Mr Moise’s suburban home where he was found dead in the early hours of Wednesday.

Mr Moise, 53, was discovered lying on his back in his bedroom with 12 bullet wounds and his left eye damaged, local tribunal judge Carl Henry Destin said on Friday.

The front door of his home was riddled with bullets and had been forced open, with other rooms in the house ransacked, he added.

Mr Moise’s wife Martine, 47, was seriously injured in the attack but is now in a stable condition after being flown to Florida for treatment.

Colombia's director of the National Police Jorge Luis Vargas
Colombia’s director of the National Police Jorge Luis Vargas

As well as the 17 in custody, three other suspects were killed in the struggle with police, and eight are on the run, the Haitian police said.

They are still hunting the mastermind behind the assassination.

Thousands of Haitians gathered outside the US embassy in Port-au-Prince on Friday amid rumours America would be granting people asylum.

The island nation is in a 15-day state of emergency as it grapples with the violent crisis.

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