A 49-year-old businessman who holds double citizenship of Haiti and Chile has been charged in the United States in connection with the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse at the latter's residence in Port-au-Prince on July 7.
A man by the name of Rodolphe Jaar has been detained for “conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States and providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap”Moïse, whose wife was injured during the attack and was flown to Miami for treatment.
If convicted, Jaar faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, Judge Lauren Louis of the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida has told the defendant via Zoom because of COVID-19 restrictions. Jaar was transferred to Miami from the Dominican Republic Wednesday afternoon.
During his court appearance, Jaar wore a beige prison uniform and was handcuffed. He is said to have provided housing for 20 Colombians with military experience who were recruited to allegedly execute an arrest warrant on Moïse.
The defendant answered the judge's questions in English. He said he had not earned any income for six months, had no US bank account, real estate, assets or vehicles in the US and that he had about US $ 2,000 in a Haitian bank account, due to which he needed the services of a court-appointed lawyer. Attorney Joaquin Padilla was appointed. He asked the judge for some time to confer with his client, which was granted.
Assistant US Attorney Walter Norkin requested Jaar be held without bond, noting that he has no legal status in the United States and has a criminal record. According to media repoorts, Jaar worked as an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after he was arrested in South Florida in 2013, but these allegations were not corroborated. The judge resquested the Haitian Consulate be notified of Jaar's detention.
Haiti has charged more than 40 people in connection with the assassination. Some are detained in Haiti, one died of COVID-19 during his detention, and others were released because there was insufficient evidence against them.
In addition to Jaar’s detention after crossing the Haitian border into the Dominican Republic last week, former Haitian Senator John Joel Joseph was detained by Jamaican officials in Kingston.
“The United States supports a thorough, independent investigation into President Moise’s assassination consistent with both Haitian law and international rule of law standards,” a State Department spokesperson has said.
Meanwhile, the judge investigating Moise's assassination in Haiti has excused himself from the case. Judge Garry Orélien said that because the decision of any magistrate to investigate a case is voluntary, we renounce the case registered with the number 0764/20-21 regarding the events of the assassination of the President of the Republic Jovenel Moïse, this for personal convenience. Orélien had taken over the case in August after his predecessor, Mathieu Chanlatte, resigned.
Orèlien has been criticized for the slow pace at which he handled the case, while the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH) have accused him of corruption together with his secretary. In a letter sent on January 18 to the Superior Council of the Judiciary, the RNDDH, citing witnesses and victims, revealed that the judge received bribes to free people and nullify arrest warrants and bans to leave the country.
“As soon as he was appointed an investigating judge, Garry Orélien began contacting the individuals in question and asked each of them to pay him up to US$50,000 for the cancellation of these summonses,” the organization denounced.
There are dozens of detainees in the case, including the alleged mastermind of the operation, the Haitian-American physician Christian Emmanuel Sanon.