US charges Colombian man over Haiti president’s assassination

Authorities in the United States have charged a Colombian man with participating in a plot to kidnap or kill Haitian President Jovenel Moise, whose assassination in early July sent the Caribbean nation into political chaos.

 

Mario Antonio Palacios, a 43-year-old former Colombian soldier, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States and with providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap.

He appeared at a federal court in Miami on Tuesday afternoon but did not enter a plea. Palacios, who was wearing jeans and a gray T-shirt and had his hands and feet shackled, told the judge he wanted to be appointed an attorney. After responding to questions related to his income and property, including that he owned a house in Cali, Colombia, and received a nearly $370 army pension, he was granted counsel based on limited income.

 

The Justice Department said he faces a possible life sentence.

 

Palacios is the first to face U.S. charges in Moïse’s killing and could prove essential in moving forward an investigation riddled with several pivotal and unanswered questions.

 

Records reveal how Haitian American held in assassination probe financed a ‘personal security’ team

 

Moïse was shot 12 times and killed on July 7 and his wife, Martine, was wounded in the attack. His assassination remains a murky, chaos-laden whodunit.

 

It involves suspects from several countries and allegations that Haitian officials have used the probe to crack down on political opponents rather than to prosecute Moïse’s killers.