Two of slain Haiti leader's top guards ignore prosecutor's summons

·2-min read
Demonstrators pray and demand justice outside of the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince on July 14, 2021, in the wake of Haitian President Jovenel Moise's assassination on July 7, 2021.

Two senior security officials who had been responsible for protecting Haiti's assassinated president Jovenel Moise failed to answer a summons issued by the Port-au-Prince prosecutor's office, which is leading the investigation, a judicial source told AFP Wednesday.

Dimitri Herard, head of Moise's security detail, was a no-show Wednesday, as was Jean Laguel Civil, the president's security coordinator, who had been summoned to appear in court Tuesday, according to an official in the prosecutor's office.

Herard was summoned amid suspicions surrounding the apparent ease with which the killers assassinated the head of state. He is also being investigated in Bogota for multiple trips he made to Colombia, the country of origin of most of the members of the suspected hit squad, and to other destinations in South America.

Patrick Laurent, a member of the bar of Port-au-Prince, told AFP that "the prosecution can decide to close the file without follow-up or to pass it on to an investigating judge, since it is about a crime."

He said chief prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude could order police to bring Herard to the hearing.

The Port-au-Prince prosecutor's office has already heard from three leaders of opposition political parties: former senators Youri Latortue and Steven Benoit as well as former deputy Jerry Tardieu.

"I have no idea about this assassination, which I have already condemned," Latortue told AFP after his hearing Tuesday. "I asked the (head of the prosecution) to do a thorough investigation to find the real culprits and not to persecute the political opposition."

He said that by summoning members of the opposition, "I think they are on the wrong track."

The investigation into the death of the Haitian president, who was killed by an well armed hit squad in his private residence on July 7, remains shrouded in mystery.

Haitian police said they had arrested around 20 people, including 18 Colombians and three Haitians (two of whom have dual US citizenship), as well as the alleged sponsor, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian from Florida.

The assassination, which came during a period of heightened gang violence and political instability, has plunged Haiti into confusion and raised fears of an explosion in Covid-19 cases, according to the Pan American Health Organization, which operates as the regional bureau for the World Health Organization in Haiti.

"We are worried about Haiti which, amidst considerable political turmoil, has seen thousands of residents displaced by increasing violence and instability and massing in shelters that could be hot spots for infection," said director Clarissa Etienne.

Haiti is one of 10 countries worldwide that have not yet started their vaccination campaign.

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