Suspect in Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s Slaying Arrested in Jamaica

Former Haitian Senator John Joël Joseph is alleged to have been involved in plotting last year’s assassination.

1/16/2022 5:01:00 AM

Jamaican police captured a fugitive ex-Haitian senator considered to be a suspect in last year’s assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.

Former Haitian Senator John Joël Joseph is alleged to have been involved in plotting last year’s assassination.

of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, raising hopes investigators might be able to shed light on the killing, officials said Saturday.Newsletter Sign-upPREVIEWIn Haiti, Justice Minister Berto Dorcé said the government will request that Jamaica return Mr. Joseph to Haiti. He added that because of security concerns in Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere, it would be better for now for U.S. authorities to hold Mr. Joseph.

“If Joseph is sent back, he could be killed,” said the former prime minister. “We want him in the U.S., where there is a proper investigation.”The motive for the killing, which has shaken Haiti and set off a surge of violence and kidnappings, hasn’t been made clear.

Read more: The Wall Street Journal »

Texas school shooting live updates: Shooter bought 2 rifles days before shooting

Live updates on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Read more >>

'Awesome!' Justice ⚖Justice for Haiti jistispoujovenel

Updated Jan. 15, 2022 8:50 pm ET Jamaican police captured a fugitive former Haitian senator considered to be a key suspect in last year’s assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, raising hopes investigators might be able to shed light on the killing, officials said Saturday. A spokesperson for the Jamaica Constabulary Force said John Joël Joseph was detained in Jamaica on Friday along with three other members of his family by a unit of counterterrorism and organized-crime police on immigration-related charges. “We are in touch with Haitian authorities,” the spokesperson said. Jamaican police were also in contact with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other international agencies with an interest in the case, the spokesperson said. Newsletter Sign-up The 10-Point. A personal, guided tour to the best scoops and stories every day in The Wall Street Journal. PREVIEW SUBSCRIBE Mr. Joseph and his relatives will be brought to court to determine where they will be sent, the spokesperson added. They were detained in St. Elizabeth Parish, west of Kingston. In Haiti, Justice Minister Berto Dorcé said the government will request that Jamaica return Mr. Joseph to Haiti. He added that because of security concerns in Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere, it would be better for now for U.S. authorities to hold Mr. Joseph. A spokesperson for the U.S. Justice Department declined to comment “on the pending investigation.” Haiti’s Former Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said the arrest of John Joël Joseph, who is not related to him, should help get to the bottom of the assassination of Mr. Moïse. The Haitian president was gunned down last July and his wife was seriously injured when about two dozen former Colombian soldiers allegedly attacked his hillside compound in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. The former interim prime minister said it was crucial that Mr. Joseph not be returned to Haiti, where the investigation has stalled and where the former senator’s life could be in danger. “If Joseph is sent back, he could be killed,” said the former prime minister. “We want him in the U.S., where there is a proper investigation.” Haitian police have detained or implicated more than 40 people in connection with the assassination, including more than a dozen former Colombian soldiers, members of Mr. Moïse’s security detail and a Haitian-American preacher. None of the people arrested in Haiti has been charged. Last year’s assassination of President Jovenel Moïse brought more political turmoil to a country that has long been roiled by lawlessness and economic woes. Photo: Joseph Odelyn/Associated Press The motive for the killing, which has shaken Haiti and set off a surge of violence and kidnappings, hasn’t been made clear. The U.S. is involved in the investigation because the plot might have been partly organized in Florida, where a Miami-area security firm contracted the former Colombian soldiers, initially to provide security for a Haitian-American preacher with presidential ambitions. Lawyers for the security company’s president deny he had any knowledge about the assassination plot and say he was deceived. A Haitian police report said Mr. Joseph, the former senator, is one of the main suspects. He allegedly was involved in the early stages of the plot against Mr. Moïse and took part in several meetings with other alleged conspirators. The report said that Mr. Joseph rented vehicles used by the Colombians on the night of the attack on Mr. Moïse’s home and that several weapons were found when Mr. Joseph’s house was searched after the killing. Mr. Joseph is the latest key suspect to be arrested outside Haiti in the past two weeks as U.S. law-enforcement officials appear to be making some headway in the investigation. The U.S. Congress recently passed legislation requiring the State Department to issue a report on the Moïse assassination. Earlier this month the fugitive former Colombian soldier Mario Antonio Palacios, who had been detained in Jamaica on alleged immigration violations, was flown by U.S. officials to Miami, where he faced a number of charges including conspiracy to commit murder . Mr. Palacios had been deported and was on his way back to Colombia, but during a layover in Panama agreed to be taken to the U.S., according to the U.S. Justice Department. Mr. Palacios, who the Justice Department said had been interviewed by U.S. law-enforcement officials, didn’t enter a plea during his Miami court appearance. Last week Rodolphe Jaar, a convicted drug trafficker and former DEA informant was detained in the Dominican Republic . Mr. Jaar, who according to a Haitian police report helped arm and house the Colombians alleged to be involved in the slaying, feared he would be killed if he was returned to Haiti, a senior Dominican official said. He is expected to be sent to the U.S., according to another senior Dominican official. —Ingrid Arnesen contributed to this article. Write to