It’s a story that seems to have been plucked from the pages of a crime thriller: a president who is gunned down in his bedroom in the middle of the night by a highly skilled hit man at the behest of an unidentified mastermind.
But as investigators try to uncover the truth of what happened on the morning of July 7 in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, the story that emerges is stranger than even the best-written whodunnit.
Judges and their clerks say they’ve received very specific death threats — phone calls and texts delivered while they’re at the crime scene telling them to “be ready for a bullet in the head” and “I know every move.” of you’.
They add that key evidence has been lost or destroyed, or they can no longer access it as fears grow that the probe is being obstructed from within — though no one is willing to say by whom.
Meanwhile, the key questions about the raid that killed President Jovenel Moise and seriously injured his wife Martine remain unanswered nearly three weeks later — the most pressing: who wanted him dead, and why?
Carl Henry Destin, an investigating judge who arrived at the scene of Moise’s shooting first after police, has been in hiding for more than two weeks after receiving death threats
Disturbing new details about the investigation have been revealed by CNN and are included in a trove of documents compiled by judges charged – under Haiti’s legal system – with investigating crimes and gathering evidence.
The documents contain death threats sent to the judges and their clerks warning them to stop their investigations, alter testimonials or include names in reports that constitute the official evidence.
In one incident, clerk Marcelin Valentin reported receiving a threatening phone call on July 9 while inspecting the corpses of two prime suspects at a crime scene.
According to CNN, the caller demanded information about the investigation and threatened Valentin with death if he refused to add certain names to his report or alter witness statements.
A week later, Valentin received a text saying “I see you every move,” threatening him again, this time to remove names from his reports.
Carl Henry Destin, an investigating judge who was the first to arrive at the scene of Moise’s murder after police arrived, said he went into hiding because similar threats were sent to him and his clerks.
Destin also spoke of impediments to his investigation beyond death threats — evidence he claims he’s been blocked from seeing, witnesses he hasn’t been allowed to interview, and crime scenes that have been tampered with.
He recalled being called to Moise’s house around 1am on the night of the shooting, but was told to wait outside for nearly nine hours before finally being allowed in to collect evidence and begin his investigation. .
Investigating judges say police have blocked them from watching CCTV from Moise’s presidential palace and from interviewing suspects (photo, Police Chief Leon Charles)
Investigators say bodies have been moved and suspects’ vehicle burned in one go at the crime scene they were called to (file image, police forced to flee a demonstration by Moise’s supporters)
Once inside, Destin said anyone who might have witnessed the shooting — such as Moise’s presidential guard — was long gone.
To this day, he claims, he has only been allowed to interview people with second-hand knowledge of the events, including the head of presidential security who was outside the property at the time.
Meanwhile, other sources close to the investigation said police have not given them access to CCTV footage captured by cameras around Moise’s home.
Judges and court clerks also say they have been prevented from interviewing more than two dozen suspects – including police officers – who have now been detained for two weeks, or from collecting the testimonies of local officers.
State Prosecutor Bedford Claude, who has worked closely with police, told CNN that officers who have testified and — although he has not seen them — are satisfied that the questioning officers have done their job.
He also claimed to have received death threats himself, but showed no CNN evidence.
Documents also reveal that judicial officials who called to inspect the site where two prime murder suspects were shot found their bodies had been moved.
Several cars in the area believed to belong to the suspects were also burned, potentially destroying important evidence – something police blamed on “angry local residents.”
While incompetence and problems inherent in Haiti’s underfunded justice system cannot be ruled out as causes, analysts told CNN, the incidents taken together also point to deliberate manipulation of evidence.
Martine Moise, wife of slain President Jovenel, cries over his coffin at funeral – before saying his killer ‘still runs in the streets’
Moise was embroiled in clashes with rivals before being shot dead amid disagreements over when his term would end and who should succeed him
Police were called to Moise’s private home near Port-au-Prince around 1am on July 7 for reports of gunfire and found him dead inside.
However, none of those interviewed by the news station were willing to say whether they believed the incidents were intentional or point the finger at any suspects.
Moise was killed during a power struggle with his political rivals over exactly when his presidential term would end and who would succeed him when it did.
The 53-year-old claimed to have survived one assassination attempt at the beginning of this year, which he described at the time as a “coup.”
Investigators say heavily armed robbers broke into Moise’s home around 1 a.m. before shooting him to death in his bedroom and severely wounding wife Martine before fleeing in vehicles and on foot.
What followed was a series of gun battles and chases around Port-au-Prince that ended with the deaths of several suspects and the arrest of another 20 – 18 Colombians and two Haitian Americans, who claim to have acted as translators.
Also under arrest are 24 Haitian police officers and some senior security officials accused of participating in the plot – although their exact roles have not been made clear.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry – Moise’s appointed successor who was sworn in as the country’s new prime minister after his death – has promised swift retaliation for the president’s assassins.
On Monday, authorities announced that Jean Laguel Civil – the former head of Moise’s security – had also been arrested, although it is not clear whether he has been charged.
Meanwhile, authorities issued an injunction against Wendelle Coq Thelot, a judge for the country’s highest court who had been fired by Moise.
Police are still looking for several other suspects, including a former rebel leader and an ex-Haitian senator.
Police Chief Leon Charles has said the investigation into who financed the operation is ongoing, saying the FBI and Interpol are helping to track down US citizens he believes are responsible.
At least 26 suspects have been arrested, including 18 Colombians who were allegedly part of a hit man hired to take down Moise (pictured)