Turkish police arrest man sought in Haiti president assassination

Haitian officials say Samir Handal is a suspect in the killing, but have not given details of his alleged involvement.

Women walk next to a mural depicting slain Haitian President Jovenel Moise
Women walk next to a mural with the portrait of the assassinated president of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince [File: Rodrigo Abd/The Associated Press]

Authorities in Turkey have detained a man Haitian officials say is a key suspect in the July assassination of the Caribbean nation’s president, according to Turkey’s state-run news agency.

The suspect, businessman Samir Handal, was detained at Istanbul Airport early on Monday where he arrived in transit from the United States to Jordan, Anadolu Agency reported. He has been imprisoned in Istanbul on a 40-day temporary custody order by Turkish authorities, the agency reported.

Handal’s arrest was announced by authorities in Haiti later on Monday, with Haitian Foreign Minister Claude Joseph tweeting that he spoke with his Turkish counterpart about Handal’s arrest.

He gave no further details and did not say whether Haiti would seek the man’s extradition.

Anadolu Agency reported Handal was wanted on an Interpol notice. He is currently in Istanbul’s Maltepe prison, the agency reported.

While Handal has been identified as a suspect in the July 7 plot to kill the Haitian president, the government has not released any details about his alleged involvement.

Plot to kill the president

To date, more than 40 suspects have been arrested so far in the presidential slaying, including 18 former Colombian soldiers and several Haitian police officers.

Colombian authorities have said the majority of its former soldiers did not know the true nature of the operation they were hired to participate in.

In October, another Colombian man was arrested in Jamaica.

Moise was shot dead and his wife was wounded in a pre-dawn attack at his private home.

The killing of the president deepened the political instability in the country, which has since been racked by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people in Haiti’s southwestern region in mid-August, a spike in gang-related violence and a severe shortage of fuel.

In September, Prime Minister Ariel Henry sacked a public prosecutor investigating the assassination after he sought to question the prime minister in connection with the killing.

The inquiry focused on two phone calls between Henry and the man believed to be the mastermind behind the plot on the night of the assassination.

The prosecutor had asked a judge to charge Henry in connection with the murder plot after the prime minister dismissed the request to question him as politically motivated.

Source: News Agencies