US charges second man in killing of Haitian President Moise

Dual Haitian-Chilean citizen is second man charged in the US over plot to assassinate Jovenel Moise in July last year.

Officials standing in front of picture of assassinated Haitian president Jovenel Moise
Rodolphe Jaar, 49, a dual Haitian-Chilean citizen, was charged with conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside of the US and providing material support resulting in death [File: Odelyn Joseph/AP Photo]

The United States Justice Department has announced charges against a second man it accuses of being involved in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise last year.

Rodolphe Jaar, 49, a dual Haitian-Chilean citizen, was charged with conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside of the US, the Justice Department said on Thursday.

He was also charged with “providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap” in relation to Moise’s killing at his residence in Port-au-Prince on July 7, 2021.

Jaar is the second person to be charged in the US this month over the assassination, after authorities charged a former member of the Colombian military, Mario Antonio Palacios, with “conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the US” on January 4.

US authorities said Palacios was part of a plan to kidnap Moise that later evolved into an assassination plot after the conspirators were unable to find a plane to take the president out of Haiti.

More than 40 people have been arrested so far in Haiti, the US and Jamaica in connection with Moise’s killing, which heightened uncertainty in a nation already struggling with widespread poverty, natural disasters and political instability.

Powerful armed gangs have tightened their grip on the country since the president’s assassination, causing a spike in violence and kidnappings.

In its statement on Thursday, the US Justice Department accused Jaar of being among a group of co-conspirators – including about 20 Colombian citizens and several dual Haitian-American nationals – who “entered President Moise’s residence in Haiti with the intent and purpose of killing him”.

“Jaar was responsible for providing weapons to the Colombian co-conspirators to facilitate carrying out the operation; several of the Colombian co-conspirators also stayed at a residence controlled by Jaar,” the department said.

The US complaint, which was unsealed on Wednesday in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, also accused Jaar of being present when an unnamed co-conspirator obtained a signature from a former Haitian judge on a request for assistance to arrest and imprison Moise.

Presidential guard standing beside coffin of assassinated Haitian president Jovenel Moise
Haitian President Jovenel Moise was shot dead on July 7 in his home in Port-au-Prince [File: Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters]

The unnamed co-conspirator, referred to only as “co-conspirator #1”, is described as a dual Haitian-American who travelled from Haiti to the US to help lay the groundwork for the plan before flying back to Haiti from Florida on July 1, 2021, to participate in the operation.

The person is currently in custody in Haiti, the complaint says.

Jaar voluntarily consented to an interview with FBI agents on December 9, 2021, the complaint states, and an FBI agent said in a sworn statement that he “admitted that he provided firearms and ammunition to the Colombians to support the assassination operation”.

“He stated that the operation changed from an arrest operation to an assassination operation after the initial plan to ‘capture’ the Haitian President at the airport and take him away by plane did not go forward.”

Jaar was convicted of drug-trafficking charges a decade ago and once served as an informant for the US government.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies