Prosecutor Bel-Ford Claude requested that the Prime Minister of Haiti, Ariel Henry, be investigated as a defendant in the case of the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Hours after Claude also barred Henry from leaving the country, the prime minister announced his dismissal. The prosecutor’s request was based on some telephone conversations that Henry would have had with one of the main suspects in Moise’s crime.
On Saturday Henry had denounced the “diversionary maneuvers” of the prosecutor and this Tuesday he insisted on his criticism by assuring that “nothing and no one, not even threats of all kinds” will destroy his “unbreakable will.” Moise was assassinated on July 7 by an armed commando in his home in Port-au-Prince.. The assassination is in the hands of Judge Gary Orélien, the only competent authority to call witnesses or defendants to testify, or to decide who is suspected of the crime.
“Assumptions of murder”
The brief presented by the prosecutor Bel-Ford Claude before a court of first instance in Port-au-Prince, he was brief but lapidary: “There are enough compromising elements that form my conviction about the opportunity to impute Mr. Henry and to ask for his indictment outright.”
In a second note, addressed to the director of the Haitian Immigration and Emigration Department, Joseph Cianculli, the prosecutor justified the measure of prohibiting Henry from leaving the country by pointing out the “serious accusations of assassination of the President of the Republic”.
The order prohibiting “leaving the national territory by air, sea and land” signed by Claude leaked this Tuesday on social networks. Discrepancies between senior officials have increased in recent weeks: Haitian media assure that, in addition to asking him to resign to Claude himself, he had done the same with the head of the Ministry of Justice, Rockefeller Vincent, and the secretary of the Council of Ministers, Rénald Lubérice.
Two calls on the day of the assassination
Prosecutor Claude understands that the Prime Minister Henry, just hours after Moise’s murder, had telephone conversations with one of the people most required by the investigation. Is about Joseph Félix Badio, a former official of the anti-corruption unit, an agency of the Ministry of Justice, who It would have been geolocated in the neighborhood where the private residence of President Moise is located due to the calls made to Henry at 04:03 and then at 04:20 in the morning on the day of the attack.
Badio is suspected of being the one who coordinated the operation from the field and served as a liaison with the Colombian mercenary command that attacked the president’s residence. As a judge was already in charge of the investigation, prosecutor Claude does not have the power to summon anyone to testify, but he justified his claim by evoking the “extreme gravity” of this file “for the nation.” Legally a prime minister can be heard by a judge only if the president of the republic authorizes it But, after the death of Moise, Haiti finds itself without a president.
Last week, Claude himself sent Henry an “invitation” to appear on Tuesday for questioning about the phone calls, a summons that was publicly disqualified by the prime minister. In his letter, Claude explained to the Head of Government that his presentation to the prosecution was voluntary “taking into account the restrictions due to his status as a senior public official”.
The Haitian Office for the Protection of the Citizen declared itself “indignant and stunned” by the disclosure of the telephone contacts. “Ariel Henry must resign immediately and make himself available to justice”Renan Hedouville, head of the public institution, said on Saturday.
“Serious administrative fault”
Far from responding to the harsh accusations, Henry communicated Claude’s dismissal in a letter dated Monday but released by the government this Tuesday, in which the dismissal is justified by an alleged “serious administrative offense” committed by the prosecutor. “I am pleased to inform you that it was decided to remove him from office,” the prime minister said in the brief note that was released.
His replacement in the Port-au-Prince prosecutor’s office will be Frantz Louis Juste, who has already been notified. According to Henry’s associates to the newspaper Gazette Haiti, Claude’s request would be void because the prosecutor had already been revoked at the time of requesting the imputation of the prime minister.
This Tuesday, from his Twitter account, Henry came out to defend himself from the alleged phone calls and said: “Nothing and no one, not even threats of all kinds, they will distract us from our unshakable and infallible will of this collective reconstruction, for the happiness of all the girls and all the children of our nation. “One month after devastating earthquake that left at least 2,248 dead and 690 thousand affected at Haiti, the first Minister He assured that “the time has come for recovery and reconstruction.”
“Distraction maneuvers to create confusion and prevent justice from doing its job calmly will not pass. The real culprits, the masterminds and sponsors of the heinous assassination of President Jovenel Moise will be found, brought to justice and punished for their crime“Henry himself had said on Saturday during the signing of a political agreement with the opposition.
Henry continues to meet with political parties around the “peaceful and effective governance” agreement which has already been signed, according to his words, by 169 parties and civil society organizations. The new unity government, who must assume his functions within a maximum of five days, will retain power until the elections are held “no later than the end of 2022, under the rule of the new Constitution”, as it appears in the text of the agreement.
Henry, a neurosurgeon by profession, was appointed prime minister by Moise days before his death in place of Claude Joseph. The Haitian president was assassinated on July 7 by a command of Colombian mercenaries hired by a Miami security company.. The Haitian authorities reported that 44 people were detained, including 18 former Colombian military personnel and 12 police officers from the president’s security body who did not react to the fierce attack.