Haiti’s former first lady Martine Moise has been charged with the 2021 murder of her husband, President Jovenel Moise. after a prosecutor suggested she wanted his job for herself.
Moise, 49, was included in a recommendation to charge 70 people from the capital’s top prosecutor obtained by The New York Times.
Haitian Judge Walther Voltaire reviewed the prosecutor’s documents and charged the former first lady, as well as the country’s former prime minister and police chief.
Moise is not accused of directly planning the shooting death of her husband Jovenel Moise in July 2021.
Instead, the judge accused her of being an accessory to her husband’s death and said he found contradictions in Moïse’s statements, as well as some evidence suggesting she knew of a plot against him.
The judge referred to testimony from two defendants who claimed she wanted to run for president after the murder, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Former first lady Martine Moise has been charged by a Haitian judge in connection with the murder of her husband
Former Haitian first lady Martine Moise (pictured at her husband’s funeral in 2021) faces accusations of being an accessory to the murder, which she denies.
The slain president, Jovenal Moise, was murdered on July 7, 2021 by a gang of Colombian hitmen hired by a Miami-based security company.
Martine Moise was also shot in her husband’s murder and claimed she only survived after the hitmen believed they had killed her.
His lawyer has denied the allegations, and a separate investigation by the US Department of Justice has reportedly turned up no evidence to suggest his involvement.
“We do not believe she is or could ever be a suspect in the case,” said Moise’s attorney, Paul Turner. “She was a victim, as were her children who were there and her husband.” Other legal analysts have suggested that the widow is a victim of Haiti’s corrupt political system.
Parallel investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and Haitian prosecutors have led to separate charges. Critics of the Haitian accusation say it is politically motivated.
The slain president, Jovenal Moise, was murdered on July 7, 2021 by a gang of Colombian hitmen hired by a Miami-based security company, according to the Haitian investigation.
His security came under scrutiny for allegedly allowing the assassins to enter the presidential residence without resistance, and police did not arrive in time after Moise called 911 from his ransacked room.
The president was brutally beaten before being shot dead at the scene, while the First Lady was also shot in the arms and thigh, and claimed they only left after believing she was dead.
Haiti descended into chaos following the assassination, as political violence took over the nation’s government. Elections were never held to replace Moise.
In the absence of elections, the nation’s prime minister assumed power and the second and current interim leader, Ariel Henry, was accused of involvement in the murder.
This included phone records that allegedly showed Henry had spoken to a key conspirator directly before and after the shooting. He has denied any involvement.
Martine Moise and her husband, then-president Jovenel Moise, holding hands in 2018, just three years before her assassination.
Martine (right) allegedly conspired to take over the presidency from her husband, although no evidence of this claim was presented in the file. She appears in the photo of her with her husband and Pope Francis in January 2018.
Jovenal and Martine Moise seen together after he was sworn in as president of Haiti in January 2017.
The assassination sparked continued political turmoil in the nation. Martine is seen attending her husband’s funeral in July 2021.
The subsequent investigation by Haitian authorities concluded last week with the recommended indictment of Moise, along with 70 other people. She was introduced by the prosecutor of the capital, Port-au-Prince, Edler Guillaume, a political appointee of the government.
The filing is not legally binding and only recommends that charges be filed by a trial judge, who can reject them if he so chooses.
Legal analysts cited by the New York Times have analyzed the shocking charges that will be brought against the former First Lady, considering them a weapon of the legal system against a political enemy.
Some have seen it as a blatant attempt to deflect speculation of alleged government involvement in the killing, with former US special envoy to Haiti Dan Foote calling it “another bad act” in the reaction to the shooting.
“The fact that this government is leading the investigation is bad enough,” Foote said. “It’s not even close to being independent.”
In total, Haitian authorities have already arrested 44 people for the murder, including 20 Colombians, 19 Haitian law enforcement officers and three members of Moise’s security team, and they are among the 70 named in the prosecutor’s new file.
Aside from the Haitian investigation, U.S. prosecutors have brought charges against 11 men who allegedly carried out the plot.
Five pleaded guilty and the remaining six defendants were required to have the former first lady testify at their trial later this year in South Florida. It is unclear how the recommended indictment may affect her participation in the trial.
No evidence was provided in the indictment about Moise’s alleged plan to kill her husband, and the defendants’ attorneys in Florida reportedly said the U.S. Department of Justice has given no indication that she suspects any wrongdoing. .
Weapons, mobile phones, passports and other items seized along with suspects in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise
Martine in the days after the shooting at a vigil for President Jovenel Moise
Martine was shot in the arm during her murder and left injured.
Martine Moise, arriving at court to testify in the ongoing investigation into her husband’s murder.
The charges that may be filed center on statements she made after her husband’s death, although the record reportedly does not specify what she said.
Her lawyer responded that after her initial statement to police, she refused to return to Haiti to be interviewed by detectives out of fear for her safety.
Turner added that U.S. prosecutors ordered him not to talk about the murder until he testified in his case in Florida.
Although an arrest warrant was issued in October, which was made public only a week ago, Turner added that Haitian authorities do not know his location and are keeping it secret for his safety.
Brian Concannon, executive director of the human rights group Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, also cast doubt on the legitimacy of the potential new charges.
“It’s a system very subject to political manipulation,” he told the Times. “We have a prime minister who already fired a previous prosecutor who asked too many uncomfortable questions.”
Under scrutiny, Prime Minister Henry’s office denied any manipulation of the legal process and said investigators operate independently.
“The prime minister has no direct relationship with the investigating judge nor does he control him,” said spokesman Jean-Junior Joseph.
“The judge remains free to issue his order in accordance with the law and his conscience.”
The charges also name Henry’s predecessor, Claude Joseph, as an “complicit” in the murder, to which he responded with accusations that the filing is a political coup.
“It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
‘Why would Martine Moïse have her husband killed in a massive plot involving 20 former Colombian soldiers when they live together and could find a million easier ways to get rid of him if she wanted to?’