Haiti prosecutor calls for prime minister to be charged over president’s killing

Ariel Henry, 71-year-old neurosurgeon, became country’s leader in July, two weeks after assassination of Jovenel Moïse

The investigation into the assassination of the Haitian president Jovenel Moïse has taken a sensational turn after the country’s chief prosecutor asked a judge to charge Haiti’s prime minister in connection with the crime.

Ariel Henry, a 71-year-old neurosurgeon, became Haiti’s principal leader in July, two weeks after Moïse was killed at his home in the capital Port-au-Prince.

Supporters describe Henry as an upstanding member of Haiti’s medical community who had been grappling with the unenviable task of trying to stabilize a country rocked by the murder of its president and then a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people. But on Tuesday Haiti’s prime minister was sucked into the heart of the alleged plot behind Moïse’s murder as the country’s chief prosecutor, Bed-Ford Claude, asked a judge to charge him with suspected involvement.

“There are enough compromising elements ... to prosecute Henry and ask for his outright indictment,” Claude wrote in the official request, according to the Associated Press.

The Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste said Claude had also asked immigration officials to prevent Henry from leaving the country because of the “gravity” of the facts that had emerged.

Haiti’s prime minister made no immediate comment. But last weekend, amid reports that murder investigators wanted to quiz him about telephone conversations he was alleged to have had with one of their chief suspects, Haiti’s leader vowed he would not be distracted from his mission and insisted “the real culprits” would be tracked down and punished.

In the two-page request he submitted on Tuesday, Claude claimed Henry had spoken to the former justice ministry official Joseph Felix Badio for at least seven minutes following Moïse’s 7 July shooting. Henry was allegedly at Port-au-Prince’s Hotel Montana at the time while Badio was thought to have been speaking from somewhere near Moïse’s residence. Badio has yet to be apprehended and his current whereabouts are unknown.

More than two months after the assassination much about the killing remains a mystery.

Dozens of suspects have been arrested, including 18 former Colombian soldiers – some of whom were among the assault team that swept into Moïse’s residence in the early hours 7 July. Police have claimed that one key conspirator was Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Florida-based pastor with an apparent plan to take over as Haiti’s leader. But few believe the real masterminds have been identified, let alone caught.

In an interview with the New York Times, the widow of the slain president said she suspected wealthy “oligarchs” were responsible for a crime that has shaken an already fragile and impoverished nation struggling with a series of interlinked economic, political, humanitarian and security crises.


Tom Phillips Latin America correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Haiti minister says ‘big fish’ behind president’s killing still at large
New prime minister announced as elections chief says current suspects were probably not ringleaders

Tom Phillips Latin America correspondent

20, Jul, 2021 @9:30 AM

Article image
Haiti security forces arrest six alleged gunmen after president’s assassination
Seven reportedly killed as angry civilians seize suspects following a brazen killing surrounded by claims of foreign involvement

Tom Phillips, Peter Beaumont and Jean Daniel Delone in Port-au-Prince

08, Jul, 2021 @7:53 PM

Article image
‘It’s shocking’: Haiti struggles to piece together story of president’s murder
Mystery still surrounds the killing of Jovenel Moïse, and there are fears it could lead to further chaos

Tom Phillips and Jean Daniel Delone in Port-au-Prince

09, Jul, 2021 @4:36 PM

Article image
Haiti president’s widow suspects ‘oligarchs’ of organising his killing
Martine Moïse, who was injured in attack on her husband, recounts moment assassins opened fire

Tom Phillips Latin America correspondent

30, Jul, 2021 @12:49 PM

Article image
UN calls for foreign intervention in Haiti as violence surges
‘Specialized support force’ urged for Caribbean state where 530 have been killed in gang-led violence so far this year

Tom Phillips Latin America correspondent

21, Mar, 2023 @3:44 PM

Article image
Haiti president’s assassination: what we know so far
Only a few things are known for sure about the killing of Jovenel Moïse, with many unanswered questions

Peter Beaumont

12, Jul, 2021 @10:34 AM

Article image
UN makes first public admission of blame for Haiti cholera outbreak
Human rights group hail statement by international body about ‘its own involvement’ in crisis which experts say still has not received proper attention

Ed Pilkington in New York

18, Aug, 2016 @6:00 PM

Article image
Tropical Storm Grace’s heavy rains pour misery on Haiti earthquake survivors
Flash flood and landslides complicate relief efforts as power remains out with 50mm of rain an hour falling

Joe Parkin Daniels

17, Aug, 2021 @9:26 PM

Article image
Haiti faces fresh cholera outbreak after Hurricane Matthew, aid agencies fear
At least 200 suspected cases of the waterborne disease have been reported and an urgent response is called for with thousands lacking access to clean water

Amanda Holpuch in New York

14, Oct, 2016 @10:00 AM

Article image
'It was like a monster': Hurricane Matthew leaves Haiti in crisis
With bridges down and communications patchy, the scale of devastation wreaked by the storm is just beginning to emerge

Sam Jones

07, Oct, 2016 @4:40 PM