Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has sacked the chief public prosecutor who has named him as a suspect in the assassination of the country’s president Jovenel Moise. Prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude had asked a judge to charge the prime minister in the slaying of the president before getting to know on Tuesday that he had been fired. Claude is accusing prime minister Henry of communicating with a key suspect in the case on the night the president was killed.
Moise was shot and killed after gunmen attacked his private residence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, on July 7, sending a country that has struggled to overcome the problems of poverty and inequality into political chaos. Claude recently “invited” Henry to meet with him to explain why he spoke with Joseph Felix Badio, a key suspect in Moise’s killing.
The prime minister subsequently rejected what he called “diversionary tactics” aimed at sowing confusion without responding to the said accusations against him. “The real culprits, the masterminds and sponsors of the odious assassination of President Jovenel Moise, will be identified, brought to justice and punished for their crime,” Henry said on Twitter on September 11.
Prosecutors say records obtained show that moments after Moise’s killing, Henry spoke twice with Badio, a former justice ministry official who is now on the run. Claude said the calls were made at 4:03 and 4:20 am local time on July 7, adding in his two-page order that Badio was around Moise’s home at that time. Claude said Henry, who was at the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince at the time, spoke with Badio for seven minutes.
Claude has also requested that Henry be barred from leaving Haiti “due to the gravity of the facts exposed”.
“There are enough compromising elements … to prosecute Henry and ask for his outright indictment,” Claude wrote in the order.
Henry, who was formally appointed to the post of prime minister shortly after Moise’s killing, had earlier told local media that he knew Badio. He said that he doubts Badio’s involvement in the killing as he did not have the means. On Tuesday, a letter from Henry to Claude dated September 13 stated that the prosecutor was being fired for a “grave administrative error”. Frantz Louis Juste will replace Claude, Henry said in a separate letter.
So far, over 40 suspects, including 18 former Colombian soldiers and three Haitian Americans, have been arrested over Moise’s killing. Officials are looking for other suspects, including Badio.
Henry said Saturday that the country’s main political forces had agreed to establish a transition government until the holding of presidential elections and a referendum on whether to adopt a new constitution next year, Reuters reported.