The US government extradited a former Colombian soldier and indicted him in connection with the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. NPR reported that Mario Antonio Palacios was on a layover in Panama on his way back to Colombia when he was informed by Interpol that the United States was extraditing him. The Justice Department has announced that Palacios is charged with “conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States and providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that” such material support would be used to prepare or execute the plot to kill. or kidnap.
President Moïse was assassinated on July 7 during a night raid by a group of mercenaries. While initially the motive for the attack was unknown, the New York Times published an article explaining that Moïse had created a list of people involved in drug trafficking in Haiti. The list contained the names of several prominent businessmen and politicians, including some of Moses’ political supporters. Moses was preparing to hand the list over to the US government when the raid took place.
Martine Moïse, the president’s wife, who was injured in the raid, described the attack, noting that the mercenaries ransacked the house before leaving. She explained that one of the assassins said “this is it” before fleeing. Interrogations confirmed that finding Moses’ list was the raid’s top priority.
Forty suspects were arrested in connection with this assassination, including a dozen former Colombian soldiers. The Colombian government said its soldiers were tricked into participating under the illusion that they were participating in a legitimate mission. Palacios told authorities the plan was to kidnap Moses and take him on a plane. However, he expressed that on July 6, he was informed that plans had changed to assassinate Moses.
Palacios appeared in Florida court where he was indicted by the Department of Justice. He hasn’t pleaded yet. However, his lawyer Alfredo Izaguirre told CNN that Palacios would likely plead not guilty upon pre-trial.
NPR wrote that the former Prime Minister of Haiti, Claude Joseph, said the arrest of Palacios was a “step in the right direction”. Joseph encouraged local authorities to work with US authorities to extradite Palacios to face justice in Haiti.