Rodolphe Jaar, one of the suspects involved in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse last year, pleaded not guilty Wednesday (July 6) in a Miami federal courtroom.
The Associated Press reports that the judge accepted Jaar’s request for a jury trial, at which he will defend himself on charges of conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States, as well as providing material support resulting in death. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.
On July 7, 2021, gunmen killed Moïse in a late night ambush at his Port-au-Prince residence. His wife, Martine Moïse, was shot but survived the assault by pretending to be dead. She said the killers searched her husband’s files and fled after taking documents, the president’s wife told The New York Times in the weeks after the assassination.
Jaar, 49, is a businessman with dual Haitian-Chilean citizenship, according to the AP. Federal agents brought him to the United States in January after he was detained in the Dominican Republic.
Newsweek reported shortly after the assassination that Jaar is an alleged U.S. government informant. In 2015, Jaar’s attorney revealed at a sentencing hearing on a 2013 cocaine conspiracy smuggling charge that Jaar was a confidential informant for years before his drug charge indictment.
In addition to Jaar, the Miami case involves two other foreign defendants: ex-Haitian Senator John Joel Joseph and former Colombian soldier Mario Palacios.
The U.S. Justice Department announced in January that law enforcement agents arrested Palacios. He had eluded capture in Haiti and traveled to Jamaica, according to federal officials. Jamaica deported the fugitive, and U.S. authorities intercepted him during a layover in Panama. He agreed to travel to the United States where he was charged.
Joseph, a Haitian citizen, was extradited from Jamaica to the United States where he appeared in a Miami federal court on May 9, the Justice Department announced. Joseph and Palacios face the same charges as Jaar.
Meanwhile, Haitian officials have arrested more than 40 suspects for alleged involvement in the assassination.