FBI to help investigation, no U.S. troop plans
The crowd reacts near the Petionville Police Station, where armed men charged with the murder of President Jovenel Moise are being held in Port au Prince on July 8, 2021.
Valerie Bäriswl | AFP | Getty Images
The US is dispatching high-ranking FBI and DHS officials to Port-au-Prince as soon as possible to assist in the investigation into the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, the White House said on Friday in response to the Haitian government’s formal request for help .
“The United States remains committed and in close consultations with our Haitian and international partners to assist the Haitian people after the President’s assassination,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press conference.
However, the US currently has no plans to send military aid, White House officials told NBC News Friday afternoon, amid reports that Haitian officials had requested troops to secure critical infrastructure.
An FBI spokesman said the agency is working with the US embassy in Haiti and law enforcement partners to see how they can help with the investigation.
Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond, said Friday that the Haitian government’s request outlined the “critical role” the FBI and Justice Department can play in the investigation into the assassination.
Edmond added that the Haitian government has also urged the US, under the Global Magnitsky Act, which authorizes the US president to refuse entry and impose economic sanctions on any foreign person responsible for extrajudicial killings or human rights abuses, To impose sanctions on the perpetrators involved in the attack.
“We look forward to working with our US partners to seek truth and justice,” said Edmond in a series of posts on Twitter.
Colombia has also announced it will help with the investigation, Reuters reported on Friday. Colombian President Ivan Duque said the head of the Colombian intelligence directorate and the intelligence director of the national police are dispatched to Haiti with Interpol.
The US State Department confirmed on Friday that two Americans were arrested by Haitian authorities after the president was assassinated.
“We are aware of the arrest of two US citizens in Haiti and are closely monitoring the situation,” a State Department spokesman told CNBC. “We remain determined to cooperate with the Haitian authorities in the investigation.”
The State Department declined to comment, citing privacy considerations and referred to the Haitian authorities for more information.
Haitian police on Friday identified the American suspects who are of Haitian descent as James Solages and Joseph Vincent. Solages, 35, is the youngest of the suspects and Vincent, 55, the oldest, according to a document presented to Haitian election minister Mathias Pierre.
Along with 18 Colombians, you are among the at least 20 suspects that the Haitian police have arrested in the shocking attack.
The search for at least five other suspects continues, with four others killed in an exchange of fire by the police, according to the Haitian police. Haiti Police Chief Leon Charles on Thursday called on the Haitian public to help the authorities find the other suspects, but not “take the judiciary into their own hands”.
US President Joe Biden condemned the attack on Wednesday and said he was “shocked and sad to hear about it”.
“The United States offers its condolences to the people of Haiti and we stand ready to help as we continue to work for a safer Haiti,” Biden said in a statement.
After the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse on July 8, 2021 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, citizens take part in a protest near the Petion Ville police station.
A group of armed men murdered Moise and wounded his wife at their private residence Wednesday, plunging the Caribbean nation into an even deeper political crisis fueled by gang violence and protests against the late president’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
Haiti’s interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said the police and military were now in control of security in Haiti. The authorities declared a siege on the country after the murder and closed the international airport.
Edmond has called for an international investigation into the attack and has asked the US for assistance in strengthening Haitian security.
The State Department on Thursday vehemently denied that the Drug Enforcement Administration was involved in the attack after the attackers reportedly identified themselves as DEA agents.
Edmond said the attackers posed as DEA agents and described them as “well-trained professional killers, commandos” based on a video taken from a neighbor’s house during the attack. He also noted that some spoke Spanish. Haitians speak French and Creole.
Protests against the late Haitian president have turned violent in recent months as opposition leaders and their supporters demanded his resignation.
Moise had been accused of trying to increase his power even after his term ended in February. Opposition leaders pointed to his approval of decrees restricting the powers of a court that scrutinizes the government and his creation of an intelligence agency under his sole responsibility.
Opposition leaders and their supporters also turned down Moise’s plans to hold a constitutional referendum, with controversial proposals that would bolster the presidency’s power.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.