Haiti Still Seeking Judge To Probe President’s Assassination

(AFP) — Haiti’s justice system is still struggling to find a judge willing to investigate the assassination of President Jovenel Moise a full month after he died, as magistrates fear for their lives if they take on the murky and explosive case.

“It is a sensitive, political dossier. Before agreeing to investigate it, a judge thinks about his own safety and that of his family,” one judge told AFP.

“For this reason, investigating magistrates are not too enthusiastic about accepting it,” this judge told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Several magistrates have told the dean of the Court of First Instance in Port-au-Prince that they are not interested in working on the shocking July 7 assassination of Moise at the presidential residence by a commando team, this judge said. Moise’s wife Martine was wounded but survived.

Senior magistrate Bernard Saint-Vil has sought to reassure these judges, telling them he has asked the government to guarantee their safety and has requested bodyguards.

Saint-Vil said early this week he would announce Thursday the name of the investigating magistrate chosen to take on the case, but in the end he could not because no judge wanted the job.

Police say they have arrested 44 people in connection with the killing, including 12 Haitian police officers, 18 Colombians who were allegedly part of the commando team and two Americans of Haitian descent.

The head of Moise’s security detail is among those detained in connection with the plot allegedly organized by a group of Haitians with foreign ties.

Moise, an unpopular leader, had been ruling the impoverished and disaster-plagued nation by decree, as gang violence spiked and COVID-19 spread.

Police have issued wanted-persons notices for several other people, including a judge from Haiti’s highest court, a former senator and a businessman.

Prosecutors have also issued summons for an opposition party leader, the head of Moise’s own party, and two Haitian preachers who had spoken out publicly against the late president.