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Colombian charged in connection with Moise killing

Colombian charged in connection with Moise killing
Martine and Jovenel Moise (BBC)

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MIAMI – A Colombian national, Mario Antonio Palacios, 43, has been arrested based on a criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida on a plot to assassinate Haitian President Jovenel Moise, who was killed at his private residence in Port au Prince on July 7, last year.

His wife, Martine, was also injured during the attack and had to be treated in the United States.

The Department of Justice in a statement said that Palacios has been 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 for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap.

“As alleged in the complaint, which was unsealed today, these charges relate to the July 7, 2021, assassination of the former President of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti,” the statement said.

“As alleged, the defendant and others, including a group of approximately 20 other Colombian citizens and a group of Haiti-based dual Haitian-American citizens, participated in a plot to kidnap or kill the Haitian President, with one conspirator (Co-conspirator #1) traveling to the United States on June 28, 2021, to, among other things, provide other individuals with a written request for assistance to further the plot relating to the Haitian President.”

The statement said that the complaint is also alleging that while the plot initially focused on conducting a kidnapping of the president as part of a purported arrest operation, it ultimately resulted in a plot to kill the Haitian President.

“The complaint affidavit alleges that, on July 7, 2021, Palacios and others entered the president’s residence in Haiti with the intent and purpose of killing President Moise, and in fact the president was killed.

“Co-conspirator #1, a dual Haitian-American citizen, was subsequently arrested by Haitian authorities and remains in custody in Haiti. Palacios eluded arrest and travelled to Jamaica. “

Palacios was recently deported from Jamaica and, during a layover in Panama, agreed to travel to the United States. He is currently in custody and was due to appear in court for his initial appearance on Tuesday.

The Department of Justice said that if convicted of the charges in the complaint, Palacios faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

It said that a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The statement sad that the FBI is investigating the case with other law enforcement partners, including Homeland Security Investigations.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrea Goldbarg and Walter Norkin are prosecuting the case with assistance from National Security Division Trial Attorneys Frank Russo and Emma Ellenrieder.

The statement said that a complaint is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. (CMC)