LatinNews Daily - 20 February 2024

HAITI: Moïse’s widow and others charged over his murder

In an indictment leaked on 19 February, Haitian judge Walther Wesser Voltaire, who is investigating the July 2021 assassination of former president Jovenel Moïse (2017-2021), announced charges against his widow, Martine Moïse, and former prime minister Claude Joseph (2021), among some 50 individuals.


Voltaire is the fifth investigating judge in charge of the case after his predecessors quit citing concerns for their personal safety. The charges, which were made public by Haitian online media AyiboPost in a leaked 122-page document, represent a potential breakthrough in the investigation into Moïse’s murder – the mastermind of which has yet to be identified. Over 40 people have been arrested in Haiti in relation to the murder, including former Colombian soldiers, but until now no-one had been formally charged in Haiti. The investigation, which is taking place alongside a parallel investigation in the US, for which 11 defendants have been named and a handful have pleaded guilty, could further exacerbate tensions in Haiti. This comes as the country is already facing an unprecedented security crisis and as the caretaker prime minister, Ariel Henry, who has previously been accused of involvement in the plot through alleged links to a key suspect, Joseph Félix Badio, recently saw massive protests demanding his resignation.

  • According to the document Martine Moïse, who was wounded in the deadly assault, and Joseph, who briefly led the country following Moïse’s murder before Henry took over, are both charged with complicity and criminal association.
  • The indictment also includes charges against former police chief (2004-2005; 2020-2021) Léon Charles, Haiti’s current representative to the Organization of American States (OAS). Charles faces charges including murder, attempted murder, possession and illegal carrying of weapons, and conspiracy.
  • According to the indictment Martine Moïse refused to cooperate with requests to answer questions about her husband’s killing and made statements “so full of contradictions that they ultimately discredited themselves.” These include claims that she hid under the couple’s bed to protect herself from the assailants. Investigators suggested there was not enough room to fit under the bed.
  • The indictment does not directly accuse Moïse of plotting the murder. It also does not provide direct evidence of her involvement. Instead, it cites testimony from Badio, who according to the document, was working for the plotters, as claiming that she was scheming with others to take over the presidency. Badio was arrested in October last year, having been on the run for over two years, and has also been charged.
  • Badio was cited as saying that various groups were seeking to remove Moïse. Under one of these schemes, following Moïse’s departure, Joseph would remain prime minister during the transition period and would organise elections in which Martine Moïse would run as a presidential candidate.
  • Some of the names which feature in the indictment include those who have been charged in the US in relation to the separate investigation taking place there. Among others these include: Joseph Vincent, a Haitian American, John Joël Joseph, a former Haitian senator (who have both issued guilty pleas), and Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a US-Haitian pastor, who conspirators reportedly sought as Moise’s replacement, according to US charges.
  • The US Department of Justice has previously suggested that the motives behind the plot relate to money and power; through ousting Moïse, his replacement “would serve the co-conspirators’ political goals and financial interests”.

Looking Ahead: With Martine Moïse yet to respond to the charges, in a statement to the Miami Herald, Joseph accused Henry of “weaponising the Haitian justice system” to persecute opponents in “a classic coup d’état”, claiming the caretaker prime minister was the “main beneficiary” of the plot.

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