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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Gisela Salomon

Businessman gets life sentence in 2021 assassination of Haiti’s president

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A federal judge in Miami sentenced a Haitian-Chilean businessman Friday to life in prison for his role in helping a group of Colombian mercenaries obtain weapons to assassinate Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in 2021.

Rodolphe Jaar, who has dual Haitian and Chilean citizenship, had pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States, and to providing material support resulting in death.

Federal Judge José E. Martínez handed down the sentence at a hearing in federal court in downtown Miami. Jaar received the maximum sentence he faced despite pleading guilty and pledging to cooperate with investigators in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence.

The businessman, who was an informant for the U.S. government and had been convicted of drug trafficking a decade ago, is one of 11 people arrested and charged in the United States for the murder of Moïse, and the only one to plead guilty. The other 10 are scheduled for a jury trial in July, though the date could be pushed back.

Moïse was killed on July 7, 2021, when assailants broke into his private home in Port-au-Prince. He was 53 years old.

In addition to Jaar, the other defendants in Miami are: former Colombian soldiers Mario Palacios and Germán Alejandro Rivera García; former Haitian Senator John Joel Joseph; Haitian-Americans James Solages, Joseph Vincent and Christian Emmanuel Sanon; American Federick Joseph Bergmann; Colombian Arcangel Pretel Ortiz; Venezuelan-American Antonio Intriago, and the Ecuadorian-American financier Walter Veintemilla.

The Haitian government also has arrested more than 40 people for their alleged role in the murder, including 18 former Colombian soldiers.

Jaar arrived at South Florida in January 2022 after being detained in the Dominican Republic, and has been held in federal detention ever since. According to US authorities, he voluntarily agreed to be transferred to Miami to face his accusations.

According to charging documents, the conspirators initially planned to kidnap the Haitian president, and later changed the plan to kill him instead. Plotters had hoped to reap lucrative contracts under a new administration once Moïse was out of the way, investigators allege.

Jaar was responsible for supplying weapons to the Colombian mercenaries for the operation, documents at the court said. Several of the former South American soldiers remained in a house controlled by Jaar, according to the charges.

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