A retired Colombian army officer has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 2021 assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, which caused unprecedented turmoil in the Caribbean nation.
Germán Alejandro Rivera García, 45, is the second of 11 suspects detained and charged in Miami to be sentenced in what US prosecutors have described as a conspiracy hatched in both Haiti and Florida to hire mercenaries to kidnap or kill Moïse, who was slain at his private home near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on 7 July 2021.
Rivera, also known as Colonel Mike, had pleaded guilty in September to conspiring and supporting a plot to kill the Haitian president. According to court documents, he was part of a convoy headed to Moïse’s residence the day of the killing, after he relayed information that the plan was not to kidnap the president but rather kill him.
Rivera had faced up to life imprisonment and hoped to receive a lighter sentence after signing a cooperation agreement with US authorities.
Federal judge José E Martínez handed down the sentence at a less-than-30-minute hearing in Miami on Friday.
It came after Haitian-Chilean businessman Rodolphe Jaar was sentenced to life in prison in June for his role in Moïse’s killing. The former Haitian senator John Joel Joseph is set to be sentenced in December. Eight more defendants are awaiting trial next year in the United States.
Rivera entered the hearing wearing a prisoner’s beige shirt and pants. His hands were cuffed and his ankles shackled as he listened to the judge’s ruling as he sat next to his attorney.
According to the charges, Rivera, Jaar, Joseph and others, including about 20 Colombian citizens and several dual Haitian-American citizens, participated in the plot. The conspirators initially planned to kidnap the Haitian president, and later changed the plan to kill him. Investigators allege the plotters had hoped to win contracts under a successor to Moïse.
Moïse was killed after assailants broke into his home. He was 53 years old.
Meanwhile, more than 40 suspects in the case remain in prison in Haiti more than two years after the assassination as the newest investigative judge continues his interrogations. Among those arrested after the killing were 18 former Colombian soldiers.
The case received a boost last week when police arrested Joseph Félix Badio, a key suspect who once worked at Haiti’s ministry of justice and at the government’s anti-corruption unit. He was detained in Port-au-Prince after more than two years on the run.
Since the assassination, Haiti has experienced a surge of gang violence that led the prime minister to request the deployment of an international armed force. In early October, the UN security council voted to send a multinational force led by Kenya to help fight the gangs.
Kenya has not announced a deployment date.
Source : The Guardian