Haiti boosting security for judges amid assassination case

Aug 5, 2021, 7:17 PM | Updated: 11:11 pm

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian authorities have secured armed guards to bolster security for court personnel as they prepare to announce the judge who will oversee proceedings involving the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, a judicial official said Thursday.

Magistrate Bernard Saint-Vil, who is dean of the Court of First Instance in Port-au-Prince, said some judges he recently contacted about the case had told him they were worried about their safety.

He said he is not obligated to take such concerns into consideration as he decides who will be assigned the case, saying that “the first characteristic of a magistrate is courage, because a judge is called upon to make decisions.”

But Saint-Vil added that officials recognize additional security measures are needed since some judicial officials have already gone into hiding amid death threats. Court clerks have reported receiving threatening demands that they revise names and other details in reports on the July 7 attack that killed Moïse and seriously wounded his wife.

“We demanded that these means be available because even before choosing the judge, we must check that everything is in place,” Saint-Vil said after meeting privately with several judges.

Saint-Vil did not say whether any judges had refused to take on the Moïse case.

The boost in security that he requested comes amid concerns over the wellbeing of suspects in the case who have been transferred from police holding cells to a prison where conditions have been likened to torture by the United Nations and where thousands of inmates remain held for years without so much as a court hearing, let alone a trial.

“The conditions of detention are generally appalling,” defense attorney Samuel Madistin told The Associated Press. “I hope everything will be done to allow justice to do its job.”

Madistin represents two of the more than 40 suspects detained in the assassination case. He said that he had not been allowed to meet with his clients and that one one of them, Reynaldo Corvington, is diabetic and has high blood pressure.

“There are judges who have refused to take the case. Pre-trial detention is likely to be prolonged,” Madistin said.

Similar concerns have come from human rights activists as well as Colombia’s government, which is worried about the health of 18 former Colombian soldiers arrested in the case. Colombia has said they have limited access to water and some are exhausted and have lost weight. It says one was limping and another couldn’t stand without help from a colleague.

Colombia’s government also has said the majority of former soldiers were duped into their participation.

U.S. and Haitian authorities continue to investigate the assassination as new details keep emerging.

Attorneys for Antonio Intriago, the owner of a small Miami-based private security company that authorities say hired the former Colombian soldiers for the mission, said he is innocent and the victim of what they called “an elaborate scheme.”

In a statement Wednesday, the lawyers said Intriago, of CTU Security, was led to believe that he was helping with a redevelopment and humanitarian project in Haiti’s southern coastal city of Jacmel. They said that prior to Moïse being killed, Intriago was told that security had a “change in direction” and was being requested to accompany a judge and Haitian police to serve the president with an arrest warrant.

“At the time of President Moïse’s murder, Mr. Intriago thought that his unarmed security contractors were still awaiting official security and firearms permits from the Haitian police,” his attorneys said. “Mr. Intriago was not in any way involved in the plotting to or killing of President Moïse.”

The lawyers said the security contractors did not kill Moïse and were told their role was to guard officials while police carried out the arrest warrant.

“When they entered the presidential residence, they found the president deceased, his wife wounded and the house ransacked. It is our belief that the president’s own bodyguards betrayed him,” the attorneys said.

None of the president’s security detail was injured in the attack, and at least a dozen police officers have been arrested while several top security officials remain detained.

Intriago’s attorneys also provided documents alleging that Wendelle Coq Thélot, a former Haitian Supreme Court judge, was involved in the plan to supposedly arrest Moïse. A person alleging to be Thélot wrote in an Aug. 1 tweet: “I firmly denounce the political persecutions of which I am the object at this time.”

Police have issued arrest warrants for Thélot and others including a former judicial official and an ex-Haitian senator.


Associated Press writer Evens Sanon reported this story in Port-au-Prince and AP writer Danica Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. AP writer Gisela Salomón in Miami contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


New York Yankees' Aaron Judge stands in the dugout after his solo home run during the first inning ...
Associated Press

Fan who caught Aaron Judge’s 62nd HR offered $2M for ball

The owner of a sports memorabilia auction house says he has offered $2 million to the fan who caught Aaron Judge’s American League-record 62nd home run. JP Cohen, president of Memory Lane Inc. in Tustin, California, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he has texted and emailed Cory Youmans, the man who caught Judge’s […]
1 day ago
FILE - Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss makes a speech at the Conservative Party conference at th...
Associated Press

With division at home, UK’s Truss seeks to thaw EU relations

LONDON (AP) — After an acrimonious divorce and years of bickering, Britain’s government looks like it wants to make up with the European Union. The tax-cutting economic plans of the country’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, has her feuding at home with financial markets, the opposition and chunks of her own Conservative Party. But abroad, […]
1 day ago
This undated photo provided by Merced County Sheriff's Office shows Jasleen Kaur, left, and Jasdeep...
Associated Press

‘Our worst fears’: Kidnapped baby, parents, uncle found dead

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A baby girl, her parents and uncle were found dead in a central California orchard two days after they were kidnapped at gunpoint from their business, police said. “Our worst fears have been confirmed,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said at a Wednesday night news conference. Warnke did not release any […]
1 day ago
A currency trader walks by the screen showing the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and Sou...
Associated Press

Asian stocks mixed on strong US hiring, OPEC oil output cuts

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed Thursday after strong U.S. hiring dampened hopes the Federal Reserve might ease off plans for interest rate hikes and the OPEC group of oil exporters agreed to output cuts to shore up prices. Tokyo and Seoul advanced while Hong Kong and Sydney declined. Chinese markets were closed for […]
1 day ago
FILE - The exterior of Phoenix College, part of the Maricopa County Community College system, is se...
Associated Press

Arizona weighing in-state tuition rate for some non-citizens

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona voters this November will decide whether to allow students regardless of their immigration status to obtain financial aid and cheaper in-state tuition at state universities and community colleges. At least 18 states, including California and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia now offer in-state tuition to all students who […]
1 day ago
FILE - Actor Kevin Spacey arrives at the Old Bailey in London on July 14, 2022. Spacey heads to cou...
Associated Press

Kevin Spacey faces civil trial on sexual assault claims

NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Spacey heads to court Thursday to defend himself in a lawsuit filed by Anthony Rapp, the actor who in 2017 made the first in a string of sexual misconduct allegations that left the “House of Cards” star’s theater and filmmaking career in tatters. The trial, expected to last less than […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Haiti boosting security for judges amid assassination case