Former Colombian elite soldier Mario Antonio Palacios has been arrested by United States authorities in Panama during a stopover on his way back home from Jamaica, it was announced Tuesday.
Palacios, 43, has admitted in an interview to being in President Jovenel Moïse's room in the early hours of July 7 but denied being involved in the assassination.
The Jamaican Government ordered Palacios deported last week, but not to Haiti where he is wanted for magnicide. He had entered Jamaica illegally from the Dominican Republic, and that was all they had on him after Port-au-Prince had failed to submit enough evidence to support other charges.
The information provided did not link him to the murder and essentially indicated that he was a suspect in an attempted armed robbery, without any details, the Jamaican government said, adding that all attempts to obtain more and better data from the Haitian government have not been successful.
In addition to that, there is no formal extradition treaty between Jamaica and Haiti.
But during a stopover Tuesday at Panama City on his way to Colombia, Palacios was arrested by US authorities and according to media reports, he is believed to have been put on a flight to that country, which, like Haiti, had issued an Interpol red notice requesting his arrest.
Palacios' arrest in Panama marks the latest twist in the saga of the investigation into the murder of President Moïse.
It is a step in the right direction, said Claude Joseph, who was Haiti's interim Prime Minister after Moïse's death and handled the country's affairs until he was replaced by Ariel Henry.
Haitian authorities have since July 7 arrested 18 Colombians and two Americans of Haitian descent, in connection with the magnicide, while 3 Colombians died in shootouts with Haitian law enforcement agents after the attack.
Jamaica's decision not to hand Palacios over to Haiti was not welcome by Joseph. ”It is a severe blow to the investigation (...) There is no political will to advance the investigation of the murder,” he said at the time of the ruling.
Former Haitian First Lady Martine Moïse, who was injured in the attack and underwent surgery in the United States, said at her husband's funeral that the country's ruling class was behind the crime.