Haiti PM Ariel Henry
(Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry)

Haiti premier fires prosecutor who accused him

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Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Tuesday (Sept. 15) replaced the chief public prosecutor who had been seeking charges against him in relation to the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

Moise was shot dead on July 7 when gunmen stormed his private residence in the capital Port-au-Prince. The assassination plunged Haiti, a Carribbean impoverished nation of 11,000,000 people, already struggling with political instability into a deeper economic, humanitarian and security crisis.

Bed-Ford Claude, the Port-au-Prince government commissioner, the equivalent of a federal prosecutor, said last week that phone records showed Henry had twice communicated with a leading suspect in the hours after the killing of Moise. That suspect, a former justice ministry official whom Henry has publicly defended, is now on the run.

Claude in a letter to the country’s Migration Services said that Henry should be “forbidden from leaving the national territory by air, sea or road due to serious presumption relative to the assassination of the president.”

The Prime Minister last week dismissed the charges against him as politicking.

“The real culprits, the masterminds and sponsors of the odious assassination of President Jovenel Moise, will be identified, brought to justice and punished for their crime,” Henry said in a post on Twitter on Saturday (Sept.11).

Later on Tuesday, a letter from Henry to Claude dated September 13 emerged in which he said he was firing the prosecutor for a “grave administrative error”, without going into detail.
In a tweet, the prime minister’s office announced that Frantz Louis Juste had been installed as Port-au-Prince’s new interim top prosecutor.

It remains unclear whether the order is valid as Haiti’s 1987 constitution mandates that the prosecutor can only be appointed or fired by the president, a position that remains vacant. Henry became Haiti’s acting president following the assassination of Moise. He was sworn in after the killing, on July 20, pledging to improve the country’s dire security situation and to organise long-delayed elections.

The early months of Henry’s tenure have been troubled by continuing intrigue over the assassination, deadly gang violence in Port-au-Prince, and a  7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, Al Jazeera