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US arrests four more in plot to kill Haiti president

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Activists in Haiti demand justice for slain Haitian president Jovenel Moise./AFP
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Feb 15, 2023 - 03:35 AM

MIAMI, UNITED STATES — The US Justice Department announced four new arrests Tuesday in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, including a US financier for the operation.

Arcangel Pretel Ortiz, Antonio Intriago, Walter Veintemilla and Frederick Bergmann were accused of involvement in the July 7, 2021 murder that was carried out by a group of military-trained Colombians recruited by Haitians in Florida.

That added to seven others already charged in the plot, including four who were transferred from the Caribbean country to the United States last month to stand trial.

The plot was hatched at first by Haitian-American Christian Sanon, one of the four charged last month, who allegedly wanted to become Haitian president by sparking an uprising against Moise, according to court filings.

Ortiz and Intriago ran two Florida security companies when they agreed to support Sanon, the filings say.

Veintemilla, who ran a lending company, meanwhile agreed to finance the operation with a $175,000 credit line.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said the three “hoped to reap windfall benefits from security and construction contracts” after Sanon became Haitian leader.

When they realized that Sanon had little support in Haiti and was constitutionally prevented from becoming president, they shifted their support to a former Haitian Supreme Court judge, US Justice officials said.

The judge remains unnamed in the filings but US prosecutor Markenzy Lapointe said he was clearly involved in the plot.

The plot at first aimed at kidnapping Moise, but then evolved to assassination, according to the filings.

The Colombian squad shot Moise dead on the night of July 6 to 7, 2021 in his private residence in Port-au-Prince, while his wife survived the attack.

Ortiz, a Colombia national and US resident; Intriago, a Venezuelan with US residency; and US citizen Veintemilla were charged with conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States, the same charge filed against most of the others arrested.

If found guilty they could be sentenced to up to life in prison.

Bergmann meanwhile was charged with export violations and smuggling for his role in supplying equipment to the plotters.

US law is being applied in this case because the plan to kill the Haitian president was allegedly partly organized on US soil in Florida, by American-Haitian nationals.

“Haiti is no stranger to hardship and suffering,” Lapointe said.

The plotters “thought they could go down there and actually reap the benefits of that vulnerability,” he said.

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