Investigations into the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse open the way in a scenario still full of unknowns. Caribbean country authorities said on Friday that at least 28 mercenaries took part in the assassination. There are 26 Colombians, several of them former Army officers retired from 2018, and two Americans of Haitian origin. Of those, 19 were arrested – 17 at the start and another two at the end of the day – eight managed to escape and at least three were killed by security forces.
Colombian police presented a picture of the faces and names of 13 former soldiers and said they were recruited by four Colombian security companies, who paid their airline tickets and traveled in two groups, in late May and early June .
According to first information, they had 32 days to plan the attack. “We are collecting information on the companies that recruited them,” said Colombian Police Director General Jorge Luis Vargas, who said that “all checks are already in place in Colombia to send a full report to the Haitian authorities.”
“We offer every collaboration to find the truth of the material and intellectual authors of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse,” Colombian President Iván Duque added after communicating with Haitian Prime Minister Claude Joseph. The Colombian president also ordered the police intelligence director to travel to Haiti with members of Interpol Colombia to help with the investigations.
The Colombian police said they still had to respond to new requests from the Haitian authorities. The United States will also send a delegation integrated, among others, by members of the FBI, according to information from the White House.
While the development of events remains vague, a woman’s surprising connection to a Colombian radio station provided some clues — impossible to verify — about how the group was recruited for an operation of this magnitude, as well as about the profile of the ex-military. . The woman, who identified herself as the wife of Francisco Eladio Uribe, one of the prisoners, said her husband was hired by “a security agency to look after the families of sheikhs”, who did not know exactly where they would be sent and who offered him $2,700 (14,000 reais) for the service.
“I spoke to him on Wednesday at 10 pm and he told me that they were going to guard, it was ok,” the woman reported. The next day, she added, her husband wrote that he was on the run, was being attacked and that he “didn’t understand what had happened.” Afterwards, he had no further contact until he saw him on the news as one of those captured.
Trail in networks
Francisco Eladio Uribe was a professional soldier and left the army in 2019, but he was also investigated for extrajudicial executions and false positives, as the murders of civilians to present them as guerrillas are known in Colombia. The murder was committed in 2008 and Uribe had pledged to inform the Colombian peace court about his participation. According to this version, the soldier was recruited by Sgt. Duberney Capador, one of those who died in the police operation.
The route that was allegedly taken between Bogotá, the Dominican Republic and Haiti was confirmed by the Colombian police chief, who revealed that 11 former soldiers traveled on June 4 from Bogotá’s El Dorado airport. Another group did it on May 6th. “Duberney Capador and Alejandro Rivera García traveled from Bogotá to Panama and then to the Dominican Republic on May 6, stayed there for 4 days, and on May 10, from Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince by air,” Vargas said.
The route taken by the former soldiers was also registered on the social networks of some of them. Sgt. Manuel Antonio Grosso, one of the most trained in the group, who was a member of the Army’s urban anti-terrorist special forces, published several tourist photos in the days before the assassination.
The data coincides with information from the Haitian authorities. “They entered in small groups, with the complicity of someone, they were sheltered in one of the most luxurious neighborhoods, the same one where the president lived,” Mathias Pierre, minister in charge of Electoral Affairs, told W Radio in Colombia from Haiti.
The details that are being leaked out have also led to criticism of the Colombian Armed Forces, whose deterioration is marked by local corruption scandals and the murder of civilians, and which escalates to the international level with the attack on the presidential couple in Haiti. Amidst all the confusion about the details of the assassination of Jovenel Moïse, the country remains paralyzed by the power vacuum and with an apparent calm in the streets in the middle of a state of siege decreed by the prime minister.
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