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President Jovenel Moise

Haitian police arrest top suspect in Moise assassination

Haitian police arrest top suspect in Moise assassination
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry (C) together with members of his government commemorates the second anniversary of the assassination of Haiti's President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 07 July 2023. The investigation into Moise's assassination remains stalled as the country commemorates the second anniversary of his death. Moise was murdered at his private residence in Petion-Ville, near the capital city, by a group of armed men on 07 July 2021. EPA-EFE/Johnson Sabin

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Haitian police arrested former justice official Joseph Felix Badio in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, a police spokesman told Reuters on Thursday,

Badio is accused by investigators of ordering the hitmen who carried out the attack in July 2021.

The assassination of Moise plunged the Caribbean island nation into political disarray and increasing lawlessness as powerful gangs have expanded their reach.

Armed police intercepted Badio as he was driving out of a supermarket parking lot in Petion-Ville, a Port-au-Prince suburb, on Thursday afternoon, according to a witness at the scene.

Badio, considered the main suspect in the assassination plot by Haitian officials and rights groups, is charged with murder, attempted murder and armed robbery.

Moise was shot dead in his bedroom after a group of armed men burst into his home in the hills above Port-au-Prince.

The group was mostly comprised of Colombian mercenaries, according to investigators, though several Haitians and Haitian-Americans have also been accused of playing a role in the killing.

Investigators accuse Badio of ordering the Colombian hitmen to carry out the deadly attack.

Others implicated in the case, including former Haitian Senator Joseph Joel John and Haitian-Chilean businessman Rodolphe Jaar, have been convicted in the United States for their role in the murder.

Since the brazen assassination, the impoverished nation’s unelected government has struggled with providing even basic services.

Haiti’s gangs have taken on roles such as running schools and clinics in the place of an increasingly absent government, even as their criminal rackets help gang leaders amass wealth and terrorize victims, according to a U.N. report published on Wednesday.

The U.N. recently ratified deploying an international force to support Haiti’s police at the government’s request, but few countries have committed personnel and it has yet to materialize.

By Harold Isaac

(Reporting by Harold Isaac; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by David Alire Garcia, Jamie Freed and Leslie Adler)

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