The Dean of the Court of First Instance in Port au Prince, Bernard Saint-Vil, says a “very competent” judge has been appointed to lead the investigation into the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, who was gunned down at his private residence on July 7.
The Dean, had in the past few days, found it difficult to appoint a judge to examine the file and documents related to the killing of Moise, because they feared for their lives.
Death threats are especially common in high-profile slayings in Haiti, and several court clerks probing Moïse’s death have already gone into hiding after being ordered to change some names and statements in their reports.
Saint-Vil has named Judge Mathieu Chanlatte as the judicial officer to conduct the probe and the President of the National Association of Haitian Magistrates, Jean Wilner Morin, said he believes that his colleague will not be intimidated.
“It is an investigation that will take time. We also hope that the authorities will put all the necessary resources at the disposal of magistrate Chanlatte and will also ensure his safety,” Morin said.
Haitian attorney Steevens Rosemond, who is not involved in the case, has also welcomed the choice.
“I ask that the Haitian state guarantee the safety of this magistrate so that he can do his work in accordance with the standards,” Rosemond said.
Haitians have also reacted swiftly to the news on social media, with some saying they hope justice will be served.
The documents were handed over last this week following 25 days of investigation, interrogation and searches in the killing of Moise, who was shot at least 12 times when the armed gunmen raided his home. His wife, Martine, who was also injured during the incident, said the gunmen had come looking for a specific document and had been in communication with a Spanish-speaking person on the telephone during the ordeal.
Police say they have arrested 44 people, including 12 Haitian police officers and 18 Colombians who were allegedly part of the commando team and two Americans of Haitian descent. The head of Moise’s security detail is among those detained in connection with the plot allegedly organized by a group of Haitians with foreign ties.
Human rights activists, defense attorneys and Colombia’s government have said they are worried about those detained, given that they were recently transferred to an overcrowded prison whose conditions have been compared to torture.
On Monday, in Colombia, more than 20 relatives of the ex-soldiers arrested in Haiti organized a protest to demand due process and attorneys for them.
Moise’s wife, Martine, who has hinted at the possibility of contesting the presidential elections scheduled for September 26, said recently that it was important for those involved in the assassination to be arrested.