The US justice system this Friday sentenced Joseph Vincent, accused of plotting to assassinate Haitian President Jovenel Moïse on July 7, 2021, in Port-au-Prince, to life in prison.
Vincent, a 58-year-old Haitian-American, appeared in federal court in Miami, Florida, two months after pleading guilty to participating in the murder.
In a signed statement, the defendant admitted in December that he had met with other conspirators from February 2021 until the day of the murder.
In the early hours of 7 July, he accompanied other defendants to Moise’s private residence, where a commando of Colombian mercenaries shot the president without intervention from his bodyguards.
His work in the conspiracy included advising his associates about the Haitian political landscape, attending meetings with political and community leaders in the country, and using them as cover to encourage protests against Moïse and overthrow him. Participation in the plan was included.
He often wore a US State Department pin, giving the impression that he worked for Washington.
According to media such as the Miami Herald, Vincent, a former informant for the US Anti-Drug Agency (DEA), promised to cooperate with the prosecutor’s office.
Dressed in a beige prisoner’s uniform, he entered the courtroom, shackled and barely walking with the aid of a cane. Before hearing his sentence, he addressed those present. “Please forgive me for what I did,” he said in Haitian Creole.
The US justice system claimed jurisdiction over the case, charging 11 people, because part of the plot was hatched in Florida.
Four men are sentenced to life imprisonment: Vincent; former Haitian senator Joseph Joel John; Rodolphe Jaar, a Haitian-Chilean businessman; and German Rivera, a retired Colombian Army officer.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the conspirators wanted to kidnap Moise and replace him with Haitian-American citizen Christian Sanon. But, having failed to kidnap the President, they decided to kill him.
Haiti has arrested 17 people for the assassination of the 53-year-old president, but none of them have been formally charged, according to the Miami Herald.
The small country, considered the poorest in the Americas, has been plunged into violent chaos since the assassination and its presidency is vacant. According to the United Nations, in 2023, there were almost 5,000 murders and January 2024 was “the most violent month in more than two years”.