Prosecutor Asks Haitian PM Be Charged in President's Death, Prevented From Leaving Nation

Haiti's head prosecutor requested a judge to formally charge Prime Minister Ariel Henry in the assassination of the country's president.

Prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude asked officials to prevent Henry from leaving the country. The order was filed the same day Claude asked Henry to meet and explain why a primary suspect in President Jovenel Moïse's killing made calls to the prime minister twice in the hours leading up to the assassination.

"There are enough compromising elements ... to prosecute Henry and ask for his outright indictment," Claude wrote in the order.

Calls were made by the suspect, Joseph Badio, at 4:03 and 4:20 a.m. on July 7, Claude said, adding that evidence puts Badio in the vicinity of Moise's home at the same time.

Badio previously worked for Haiti's Ministry of Justice and the government's anticorruption unit, but was fired in May because of unspecified ethics violations.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Haiti Charges for PM
FILE - In this July 20, 2021 file photo, Haiti's designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry, center, and interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, right, pose for a group photo with other authorities in front of a portrait of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moise at the National Pantheon Museum during a memorial service for Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Haiti’s chief prosecutor has asked a judge to charge Henry in the slaying of his predecessor and barred him from leaving the country. Joseph Odelyn, File/AP Photo

A spokesman for Henry could not immediately be reached for comment.

In the two-page document, Claude said the calls lasted a total of seven minutes and that Henry was at the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince at that time. He also noted that a government official tweeted last month that Henry told him he never spoke with Badio.

On Monday, Justice Minister Rockfeller Vincent ordered the chief of Haiti's National Police to boost security for Claude because the prosecutor had received "important and disturbing" threats in the past five days.

The judge in the case, Garry Orelien, is required to investigate based on Claude's request and has three months to determine whether the facts in the case justify any action. He would then issue an ordinance dictating what happens to the case, said Brian Concannon, an adviser for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

Robert Fatton, a Haitian politics expert at the University of Virginia, said there is clearly a fight within the government between Henry and those who supported Moïse.

"We have a very confusing situation, a power struggle at the moment, and we will see who will win it," he said. "It's not clear where we are going, and it's not clear what the international community thinks about everything."

In recent days, Haiti's ombudsman-like Office of Citizen Protection announced it took the "objective and courageous" decision to demand that Henry step down and asked that the international community stop supporting him.

Henry has not specifically addressed the issue in public, although during a meeting with politicians and civil society leaders on Saturday, he said he is committed to helping stabilize Haiti.

"Rest assured that no distraction, no summons or invitation, no maneuver, no threat, no rearguard combat, no aggression will distract me from my mission," Henry said. "The real culprits, the intellectual authors and coauthor and sponsor of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse will be found and brought to justice and punished for their crimes."

More than 40 suspects have been arrested in the case, including 18 former Colombian soldiers. Authorities are still looking for additional suspects, including Badio and a former Haitian senator.

The investigation is ongoing despite court clerks having gone into hiding after saying they had been threatened with death if they didn't change certain names and statements in their reports.

In addition, a Haitian judge assigned to oversee the investigation stepped down last month citing personal reasons. He left after one of his assistants died in unclear circumstances. A new judge has been assigned.