A group of 11 heavily armed people was arrested Thursday (8) after raiding the Taiwanese embassy in Haiti, the Asian country said. The suspicion is that the detainees participated in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who was killed at his home on Wednesday (7) in Port-au-Prince.
Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said on Friday (9) that diplomatic representation security staff noticed the group’s presence in the courtyard of the building and notified the embassy at the top. and the Haitian police.
“At the request of the Haitian government and to help detain suspects, the embassy has given Haitian police permission to enter the perimeter of the embassy,” she said, who described them. 11 mercenary detainees.
The embassy, which is close to where Moise was murdered, had already been emptied on Wednesday for security reasons, so there was no one in the building at the time of the invasion, Ou said. at a press conference.
The revelation of the affair sheds light on relations between Port-au-Prince and Taipei. Haiti is one of the 15 countries in the world that recognize Taiwan as an independent country. Indeed, China refuses to maintain diplomatic relations with those who recognize the island – which, for Beijing, is a rebel province.
“In this difficult period, the Taiwanese government reiterates its support for the capacity of Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph to lead Haiti through this crisis and to restore democratic order. Taiwan strongly has this violent and barbaric action, ”Ou said on Friday.
With the death of the president, Joseph effectively took command of the country and declared a state of siege. There are, however, doubts about the legitimacy of his actions, as Moise’s natural successor would be the president of the Supreme Court, but the post has been vacant since its incumbent recently died of Covid-19.
To make the situation even more sticky, a new prime minister, Ariel Henry, was due to take office on Wednesday, but the transfer of power was ultimately called off due to the crime.
Joseph therefore remains in charge for the time being and has said his priority is to find those responsible for the president’s death.
With the arrest of 11 people at the embassy, the number of suspects arrested for involvement in the case has risen to 17. Haitian police chief Leon Charles said that to date, 28 suspects in the assassination of the president have been identified, including 26 of whom are Colombians and 2 Haitian Americans. At least four criminals were killed Wednesday evening in a clash with security forces.
No details were given on the 11 detainees at the embassy, nor on their nationalities.
The perpetrators and motives of the crime, however, remain a mystery; the hypothesis that the killers were strangers was raised by Joseph himself soon after the crime. He said on Wednesday that the criminals were heard speaking English and Spanish, which would indicate they are not Haitians, with the country’s official languages being French and Creole.
Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano said initial information suggests that the 26 Colombians allegedly involved in the crime are retired military personnel.
According to local media, citing the judge in charge of the case, Moïse was found with at least 12 gunshot marks. “The office and living room were ransacked. We found him lying on his back, [usando] blue pants, white shirt stained with blood, open mouth, pierced left eye, ”Magistrate Carl Henry Destin told the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste.
Jomarlie, the couple’s daughter, was at home during the attack, which took place overnight, but managed to hide in one of the bedrooms. The first lady, also shot, has been transferred to Miami for treatment and, according to Joseph, is out of danger and in stable condition.
In a statement broadcast on television Thursday, Charles said the country’s security forces were engaged in an operation to arrest or kill those responsible for the attack on the president and the first lady, Martine. The biggest concern now, according to the police chief, is finding the mentors for action. He also called on the population to help the police and avoid causing riots.
Hundreds of residents gathered in front of the police station where the suspects are held in Port-au-Prince. With cries of “burn them”, they set fire to a vehicle they assumed to be the murderers. The move, which adds to a long history of violent protests in the streets of Haiti, prompted the country’s interim prime minister to call on the population not to lynch the suspects.
The affair worsened the country’s political crisis, which had at the center of the dispute a discussion about the end of Moise’s tenure. He was elected in 2015 and was due to take office on February 7, 2016 for a five-year term. Amid accusations of fraud, however, the election was called off and had to be redone the following year. During this period, the country was ruled by an interim government.
Moïse won the new vote and took command of Haiti on February 7, 2017. As the country’s presidential term is five years, he said he should stay in office until February 2022, so – a claim supported by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the government of United States President Joe Biden.
In the midst of this discussion, the then president decided to suspend two-thirds of the Senate, the entire Chamber of Deputies and all mayors and began to rule the country by decree – which led to a wave of government protests and accusations. authoritarianism.