December 8, 2023
According to authorities, several Haitian-Americans and approximately 20 Colombian citizens collaborated with Vincent in the plot to murder Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
Former DEA informant and murder suspect Joseph Vincent entered a guilty plea on Dec. 5 to charges of conspiracy to assassinate Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. The murder of Moïse led to widespread turmoil and panic in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince as well as the rest of the island nation.
The Associated Press reports that Vincent is the fourth of 11 defendants in Miami to plead guilty and faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted on charges that include conspiracy to kill and kidnap a person outside the United States of America and conspiracy to provide material support and resources.
After Judge José E. Martinez asked him how he intended to plead, Vincent replied, “Guilty, your honor.”
Vincent also indicated to the court that he had reached a plea deal with the prosecution; defendants typically do this in exchange for a lighter sentence. In Vincent’s case, the government agreed to pull two counts of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States of America. A sentencing hearing for Vincent has been set for Feb. 9, 2024.
According to authorities, several Haitian-Americans with dual citizenship and approximately 20 Colombian citizens collaborated with Vincent in the plot to murder Moïse in hopes that they would be awarded contracts under a potential successor to the Haitian president. At first, the plot revolved around kidnapping Moïse, but it eventually evolved into a plot to murder him in his home.
According to NBC News, Germán Alejandro Rivera Garcia, a retired Colombian army officer, was sentenced to life following his guilty plea in October, and Haitian-Chilean businessman Rodolphe Jaar was sentenced to life in prison in June. former Haitian senator John Joël Joseph also pleaded guilty. Joseph was detained in Jamaica before he was extradited to Miami, and he will be sentenced on Dec. 19.
All are part of what United States prosecutors call a conspiracy that began in Haiti and Florida and ended in the murder of Moïse at his private home near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. Following the killing of Moïse, Vincent initially maintained his innocence, telling a judge in Haiti that he was merely a translator for the Colombian soldiers who had been accused of storming Moïse’s residence and killing him. Over 40 suspects have been arrested, most of them shortly after the attack on Moïse.
In Haiti, four of the five judges appointed to the case stepped down for various reasons, including fear that they might be killed.
Haiti has been rocked by gang violence in the two years since the assassination of its president, culminating in a request for an armed multinational force from the United Nations.
Kenya was supposed to lead the force in October 2023, but the deployment was delayed after Kenya said its personnel needed more training and funding. A Kenyan high court extended orders that blocked the deployment with a hearing that is set for late January 2024. No deployment date has yet been announced for the soldiers.
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