A year after the assassination of the President of Haiti, there are still no answers

Haiti on Thursday market one year after President Jovenel Moise was shot dead in his private residence, but the mastermind or motive for the attack has not yet been identified and the investigation has stalled.

Moise was killed in the early hours of July 7, 2021, when a group of commandos broke into his bedroom in a house in Port-au-Prince and shot him 12 times.

Haitian police arrested about 20 people in a few hours, including 18 former Colombian soldiers allegedly hired as mercenaries.

But that initial speed was followed by an icy legal process in Haiti and the United States.

The problems have been exacerbated in recent weeks when the prosecutor’s office in the Haitian capital was invaded by one of the gangs plaguing the country.

The United Nations Office in Haiti issued a statement on the occasion of the anniversary, expressing concern about the “lack of tangible progress” in the pursuit of justice.

“The investigation and prosecution of the case in Haiti seems to have stalled,” the report said.

“After this crime, the growing insecurity associated with the violence perpetrated by armed gangs terrorizes the citizens of Haiti and monopolizes public debate as the challenges facing the country grow day by day.”

Delays in investigations have also been exacerbated by the ongoing political crisis in Haiti.

The post of President of the Caribbean island nation has remained vacant since Moise’s death, and no date has been set for a vote to fill the post.

At least five successive judges have tried the case, but none of them has brought any charges against the 40 people currently in detention.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who was appointed to his post two days before Moise’s death, is suspected of having a phone call with one of the main suspects just hours after the attack – a line of investigation he calls “distraction”.

Henry is scheduled to perform at Thursday’s ceremony commemorating Moise’s death.

Haiti’s parliament has not functioned properly for two years as Moise has not organized elections since he took office in 2017. And without a head of state to appoint judges, the country’s judiciary has also failed.

– Suspects indicted in US –

With confidence in their own government all but gone, many Haitians are instead placing their hopes in the American judiciary.

The three suspects were charged in Miami, Florida, where the conspiracy also originated, according to Haitian police.

Those suspects are Colombian Mario Palacios, who is believed to have been one of five gunmen in the room when Moise was killed, Colombian and Haitian citizen Rodolphe Jaar, and former Haitian senator John Joel Joseph.

A fourth man was arrested at Istanbul airport in November, although Turkish courts rejected Haiti’s request for his extradition only this week.

Despite the progress of the case in the United States, in April a judge ruled that the evidence should be withheld, citing that the two suspects had previously been informants for the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI.

A source in the Haitian judiciary, speaking on condition of anonymity, lamented the US actions, telling AFP: “A whole section of this story will remain unknown.”