PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — A suspect arrested on suspicion of masterminding the assassination of Haiti’s president was plotting to become president, according to the chief of Haiti’s National Police, cited by The New York Times.
However, much speculation remains around the issue.
According to the chief of Haiti’s National Police, the 28 men directly responsible for the killing were working for a Venezuelan security company based in the United States called CTU and were hired by Haitian-born Christian Emmanuel Sanon to help install him as president.
Twenty of those men have so far been arrested, three were killed in a shootout with police and a manhunt is underway to find at least five additional suspects, according to CNN.
The group of potential gunmen is made up of 26 Colombians and two naturalized U.S. citizens of Hatian descent.
The Colombian National Police Chief confirmed Friday that 13 retired members of the Colombian Army had traveled to Haiti and are believed to have been involved in the assassination.
The Miami Herald confirmed that all of those arrested so far had indeed been hired by the Florida-based security firm called CTU.
However, many questions remain.
Several reports from the men’s families in Colombia claim that the men believed they were hired on a protection mission.
According to an interview with Colombian magazine El Tiempo, the sister of one of the men said her brother had told her his team arrived ‘too late’ to protect the president himself and had subsequently been surrounded by police.
Alongside these claims, the role of the police in the events leading up to the murder is being scrutinized.
Widely shared footage appears to show a convoy of five cars approaching the president’s house on the night of Wednesday, July 7, but Haiti expert Kevin Pina, citing police sources, has said they were allowed through a police checkpoint on the instruction of the office of the chief of Haiti’s National Police before reaching the house.
There are also questions over the role of the president’s guards, none of whom were reported injured in the attack.
According to records published by Colombian magazine Semana cited by the Los Angeles Times, one member of the president’s security unit had traveled repeatedly to Colombia in the months before the killing and has been asked to present himself for questioning.
Within that context, one opposition politician said explicitly on Friday: ‘The president was assassinated by his own guards, not by the Colombians,’ though he told CNN he did not have any direct evidence of this and the president’s wife, who was injured in the incident, has since released an audio recording saying that ‘mercenaries’ were responsible.
As U.S. and Colombian intelligence officials arrive in the country to help investigate and suspects are rounded up, Leon Charles, Chief of Haiti’s National Police, attempted to draw a straight line through the confusion on Sunday, saying: “The initial mission that was given to these assailants was to protect the individual named Emmanuel Sanon, but afterwards the mission changed.” His implication, according to The New York Times, was that Sanon had meant to use the men to install himself as president.
As evidence, Charles said Sanon was the person one of the Colombians contacted after being arrested.
But this account is still widely contested.