Claude Joseph, the interim prime minister of Haiti, has said that President Jovenel Moise was tortured before his assassination, as he vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice, according to ABC News.
"Mercenaries came to the president's house, they tortured him and they killed him. We captured about 20 of them. They are currently in custody. And we believe, we staunchly believe, that justice will be provided to the President Jovenel Moise… We do have the right people [in custody],” said Joseph in an interview for the outlet on Friday.
Joseph, who declared a two-week state of siege after Moise's killing, said his main focus was to bring justice to the murdered President’s family.
When questioned about the political power struggle that unfolded directly after the assassination, Joseph responded:
"I don’t know if there is a power struggle. I’m not paying attention to whether or not there is a power struggle. I’m paying attention to giving justice to President Jovenel Moise... but I was interim prime minister. After the tragic death of Jovenel Moise I had to take charge and I did.”
Claude Joseph was appointed by Moise in April to be the country's acting Prime Minister after Joseph Jouthe resigned. However, on 6 July, a day before Moise was killed, he appointed Ariel Henry to succeed Joseph.
While some claim that Joseph's assuming power is unconstitutional, he enjoys the support of the US and UN. Helen La Lime, the United Nations' special envoy for Haiti, said on Thursday that Joseph would lead the country until new elections, planned for September and November, have been held.
However, on Friday, Haiti's Senate, the sole currently remaining body of elected officials in the country's government, voted to elect Senate President Joseph Lambert as the country's interim leader, reported Haitian news outlet Juno7.
‘Act of Murder’
The Caribbean nation’s President Jovenel Moise was gunned down at his residence outside Port-au-Prince on 7 July by a team of heavily-armed international assassins. His wife, first lady Martine Moise, who suffered three bullet wounds during the attack, was airlifted to a hospital in Florida in critical condition.
On Saturday, an audio message was released from her official Twitter account, with a Haitian official cited by ABC News as confirming its authenticity.
"This great act of murder makes me and my children cry, and I know you are crying too. This act has no name, because it must be a crime out of bounds to assassinate a president like Jovenel Moise without giving him the opportunity to utter a word," said the widow of the slain president.
MESSAGE DE LA PREMIÈRE DAME MARTINE MOISE. pic.twitter.com/cFQW70xTFE— Martine Moïse (@martinejmoise) July 10, 2021
19 suspects – 17 Colombian nationals and two American citizens of Haitian descent – have been arrested in the wake of the killing. The two arrested Americans, identified by the authorities as James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55, have denied being mercenaries.
The two claimed they were working as translators, according to Haitian Judge Clement Noel, who reportedly interviewed the pair, cited by ABC News. Solages purportedly found the job on the internet, and added the group had been supposed to arrest Moise rather than kill him.
Meanwhile, letters cited by ABC News suggest the Haitian government asked both US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the United Nations to send troops to protect key infrastructure, help stabilise the nation and support national police.
On Saturday, a senior administration official was cited as saying "there are currently no plans to send US military assistance to Haiti".
A day earlier, the White House said that FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials would be sent to Haiti to assist with the investigation into the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.