Haiti's prime minister dismisses prosecutor seeking to investigate him

The prosecutor on Tuesday asked the Court of First Instance in Port-au-Prince to investigate Henry as a defendant in the case of the assassination of President Jovenel Moise
Prime Minister-designate Ariel Henry during a ceremony at La Primature in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 20 July 2021.

AFP/VALERIE BAERISWYL  -   Prime Minister-designate Ariel Henry during a ceremony at La Primature in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 20 July 2021

Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced on Tuesday the dismissal of prosecutor Bel-Ford Claude hours after he asked a judge to open an investigation into the head of government as a defendant in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

Henry announced the dismissal of the prosecutor in a letter dated Monday, but released Tuesday by the government, which justifies the dismissal by an alleged "serious administrative misconduct" committed by Claude.

The prosecutor on Tuesday asked the Port-au-Prince Court of First Instance to investigate Henry as a suspect in the assassination case and also asked the immigration authorities to prevent him from leaving the country.

The prosecutor's suspicions about the prime minister were aroused by two telephone conversations Henry had with one of the main suspects in the assassination, Joseph Felix Badio, three hours after the crime took place on 7 July.

The prosecutor claims that the geolocation data of the calls, provided by the telephone company, placed Badio at Moise's residence, in the Pélerin 5 sector of Port-au-Prince, at the time he communicated with Henry.

El expresidente haitiano Jovenel Moise
PHOTO/AFP - Former Haitian president Jovenel Moise

Claude has been questioning the prime minister's role in the assassination since last week, when he issued an invitation to him to clarify the controversial calls.

The trial is currently under the jurisdiction of investigating judge Garry Orélien, so any summoning or subpoenaing of witnesses or defendants is up to the judge, not the prosecutor.

Henry disqualified the prosecutor's subpoena last Saturday during the signing ceremony of a political agreement, and today he referred to it again, albeit in a more veiled way, assuring that nothing will distract his will, not even "threats of all kinds" or "physical attacks".

"No distraction, no summons or invitation, no manoeuvre, no threat, no rearguard action, no aggression will distract me from my mission," Henry said last Saturday.

The Haitian authorities have remanded 44 people in custody for their alleged involvement in the assassination, including the 18 Colombian mercenaries accused of being part of the commando that killed Moise.

The group of those arrested also includes 12 policemen who were part of the president's security force, which did not react to the attack.