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Prosecutor seeks charges against Haiti’s prime minister in president’s assassination

Haiti updates

A senior prosecutor on Tuesday said there was enough evidence to charge prime minister Ariel Henry in connection with the assassination of former president Jovenel Moïse, whose murder plunged the Caribbean nation into political turmoil.

The prosecutor, Bed-Ford Claude, asked a judge to indict Henry and bar him from leaving the country. “There are enough compromising elements . . . to prosecute Henry and ask for his outright indictment,” Claude wrote in his request, according to the Associated Press.

Henry, who has yet to comment on the developments, was first named prime minister on July 5 by Möise. Two days later, Möise was murdered in his home by a hit squad, unleashing a political crisis.

Foreign minister Claude Joseph assumed power as acting prime minister before ceding the position to Henry on July 20 under diplomatic pressure. The so-called “Core Group” — which includes representatives of several major powers including the US, the UN and former colonial power France — said Henry should be given the job.

According to Bed-Ford Claude, just hours after the assassination, Henry had two telephone conversations with Joseph Félix Badio, a former justice ministry official who has been named by Colombian police as a chief suspect in the assassination and is on the run.

Claude said he has tried unsuccessfully to meet Henry so he can explain the calls, which were made between 4am and 4.30am on July 7, just hours after the assassination. The prosecutor said his evidence against the prime minister came from recordings of the calls.

More than 40 suspects have been arrested in the investigation into Möise’s killing, including over a dozen former Colombian soldiers, who are accused of being mercenaries. The police are still trying to trace other suspects, including Badio.

Moïse’s assassination plunged Haiti deeper into chaos as politicians, business leaders and powerful gang bosses vied for power amid spiralling violence and dire food and fuel shortages. Moïse’s widow accused her husband’s domestic opponents of organising the killing for political and business reasons.

Since the killing, southern Haiti has also been struck by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed thousands of homes. The country is still reeling from a far more devastating earthquake a decade ago that killed hundreds of thousands.

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