Spiralling Haiti drug trade linked to president’s death

Image copyright AFP Image caption Jean-Claude Junior Moise was killed in an armed robbery at a post office in Haiti on 31 April Jamaican police have arrested a Colombian man who they suspect was…

Spiralling Haiti drug trade linked to president's death

Image copyright AFP Image caption Jean-Claude Junior Moise was killed in an armed robbery at a post office in Haiti on 31 April

Jamaican police have arrested a Colombian man who they suspect was the gunman who shot dead Haitian President Jovenel Moise.

Jean-Claude Junior Moise, whose real name is Alejandro Fernandez Colon, was held in Port-au-Prince, police said.

His whereabouts could not be immediately confirmed but he has been linked to drug trafficking.

The arrest came amid growing international concerns over the death of Moise, a former president.

Haiti’s embassy in Washington said it had expelled a diplomatic guard, Artur Ivanis, who it accused of giving false testimony to the US Department of State.

The US said it could not comment on an ongoing investigation.

Moise, 58, was killed in a particularly violent gangland shooting on the night of 31 April. He had just left a post office, accompanied by his sister-in-law, when two men opened fire.

Earlier this month police carried out a huge raid on the town of Petionville, near Port-au-Prince, and arrested three men after a robbery. They were linked to Mr Moise.

So far just one person has been identified as a suspect, and that suspect has claimed he was not the gunman.

After fleeing the country after the incident, one of his sons was arrested in Haiti, but his father’s whereabouts remain unknown.

The Haitian government said it was launching a probe and said “it was possible that the message of violence and hate being broadcast through social media” was a motivator in the death of Mr Moise.

Media reports say Mr Moise had recently developed ties with the Democratic Front for the Reconstruction of Haiti (FDRH), a political party opposed to the president’s ruling party, First Past the Post (FPP).

The FJP has been accused of being behind a wave of political killings.

Analysis

Exploring the investigation of the death of Jovenel Moise, Matthew Wells, South Africa’s City Press

When he arrived in the country in February 2018 with what was described as a vital message, Jean Claude Junior Moise was greeted as a moderniser willing to shake up the country’s traditional political elite and set Haiti on the path to democracy.

The man arrested in Jamaica appears to have played a key role in this reform programme.

He was a convicted cocaine trafficker who failed to serve the maximum prison term but returned to Haiti under an amnesty programme which granted him amnesty after three years in prison, a source close to the Moise government told City Press.

Known locally as “Baby Doc”, Mr Moise went on to become president and embark on a humanitarian project aimed at alleviating social unrest.

Security experts say FPM dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier himself was aware of Mr Moise’s supposed drug links.

According to Haitian security expert Pierre Francois Soares, those links, including an armed robbery in which a vast sum of money was taken from a US-based bank account, indicate Mr Moise was close to organised crime.

Mr Moise campaigned on a platform of rebuilding Haiti in the aftermath of January’s devastating earthquake.

Although his Moise government faced numerous difficulties in gaining popular support, he enjoyed widespread financial support from foreigners, US President Donald Trump among them.

Mr Moise’s term was set to run until February next year but he was elected in a parliamentary by-election after the resignation of then-president Michel Martelly.

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