The leader of Haiti's opposition hired a Washington DC lobbyist two days before the island's president was assassinated - and is now due to be questioned by cops in connection with the murder.
Pierre Reginald Boulos signed up Art Estopinan, a former chief of staff to former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), to push his interests on Capitol Hill on Monday - some 48 hours before President Jovenel Moïse was killed by hitmen during a dawn raid on his house.
Boulos - leader of the MTVAyiti party - is a controversial figure who, in the aftermath of a 2004 coup, oversaw the import of weapons into the country so they could be distributed to the Haitian National Police, according to a 2005 US diplomatic cable exposed by WikiLeaks.
This was reportedly part of an attempt to clamp down on resistance fighters opposed to the de facto US-backed government, and was justified at the time as an attempt to clamp down on street violence. However, it provoked an outcry and accusations that the island's elite were trying to form a 'private army'.
Boulos later sat on the board of former President Bill Clinton's Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), which controls the spending of billions donated to rebuild Haiti after the January 12, 2010, earthquake that killed 30,000, the National reported.
The businessman was angry at Moïse's decision to stay on as president past February 7, which they insisted was the end of his term. However, he has strongly denied any role in the killing, which has left the country on the brink of civil war. 'We condemn the killing strongly, very strongly,' he told Politico. 'It's a sad time for Haiti. It's a dark day for Haiti.'
Boulos will be asked to meet with prosecutors next week, along with Senate President Youri Latortue, who was described by former US ambassador Janet Sanderson as 'one of the most brazenly corrupt of leading Haitian politicians' in a leaked 2016 cable.
Pierre Reginald Boulos (left) signed a lobbyist to push his interests on Capitol Hill on Monday - some 48 hours before President Jovenel Moïse (right) was killed by hitmen during a dawn raid on his house
Boulos signed up Art Estopinan, (right) a former chief of staff to former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who has compared Moïse's murder to JFK's assassination
A Colombian mercenary posted tourist snaps on Facebook showing him visiting the nearby Dominican Republic before sneaking across the border to Haiti to murder the country's president, it has been claimed.
Mauricio Grosso Guarín, 41, was identified by Colombian senator Gustavo Bolívar as one of the men arrested after Wednesday's killing, with national newspaper El Tiempo revealing he had earlier shared pictures showing him enjoying the sites in Punta Carna, a Dominican resort town.
Mauricio Grosso Guarín, 41, was identified by Colombian senator Gustavo Bolívar as one of the men arrested after Wednesday's killing. He is seen in a tourist snap in the Dominican Republic
Guarín arrived on the island early last month, with photos showing him posing by the sea and sitting on a square with both arms raised in the air.
He arrived in Haiti on June 6 and was among 19 alleged assassins arrested after President Jovenel Moïse's murder in a dawn raid on Wednesday, with three more dead and eight still at large.
Guarín, a former soldier, was one of 15 Colombians seized by the Haitian National Police following the incident, which has plunged the island onto the brink of civil war.
Moïse appointed Henry as prime minister two days before he was assassinated, and both he and Joseph are now claiming the office, adding to the existing instability on the island.
Estopian, a Republican, has compared Moïse's killing to President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. He previously lobbied on Boulos' behalf on human rights issues before deregistering in May.
Boulos helped elect Moïse in 2016, but later had what he described as 'a big fallout with him' and became one of his staunchest critics.
Boulos is among a series of elite insiders who are now the focus of investigations into the former president's killing.
Authorities are asking that the presidential candidate and well-known businessman meet with prosecutors next week for questioning. He has not been charged with any crime.
So far nineteen people, including two Americans, have been arrested in connection with the Moïse's assassination, although it is still unclear who masterminded it.
One of the American suspects worked with Sean Penn after the star set up a charity to help rebuild the island after its devastating 2020 earthquake, it emerged Saturday.
James Solages, 35, worked as a driver and bodyguard for the relief organization set up to respond to the aftermath of the magnitude 7.0 quake that killed 300,000 Haitians and left tens of thousands homeless.
It is not known if they ever worked directly together.
In an online profile Solages also lists as past employers the Canadian Embassy in Haiti, while his Facebook page - which was taken down following news of his arrest - features photos of armored military vehicles and a shot of himself standing in front of an American flag.
Solages described himself as a 'certified diplomatic agent,' an advocate for children and budding politician on a now-removed website for a charity he started in 2019 in south Florida to assist resident of his home town of Jacmel, on Haiti´s southern coast.
Solages and fellow Haitian-American Joseph Vincent, 55, are said to have confessed to being involved in Wednesday's early morning raid that left president Jovenel Moïse dead and his wife fighting for her life.
However, they allegedly claimed they were hired as translators in a plot to arrest politician but not to kill him.
Vincent allegedly claimed the plot was orchestrated by a foreigner named 'Mike' who spoke English and Spanish, they planned to take Moïse to the National Palace and the plot was devised over the course of a month in a hotel in Pétion-Ville.
Deputy justice of the peace Judge Clément Noël told Le Nouvelliste that the two men, who both live in Florida, said 'the mission was to arrest President Jovenel Moïse, within the framework of the execution of a mandate of an investigating judge and not to kill him.'
Solages said he 'found this job on the internet', Noël told the outlet.
Authorities are now investigating if the plot was an inside job with the president's key security personnel facing interrogation.
So far nineteen people, including two Americans, have been arrested in connection with the Moïse's assassination, although it is still unclear who masterminded it. James Solages, 35, (left) worked as a driver and bodyguard for a relief organization set up by Sean Penn (right, in Haiti) following the magnitude 7.0 quake that killed 300,000 Haitians and left tens of thousands homeless
Jean Laguel Civil, Moïse's security coordinator and Dimitri Hérard, head of the General Security Unit of the National Palace will be questioned.
Haitian Prosecutor Me Bed-Ford Claude said he had seen no casualties among the president's security detail following the assassination.
'They are responsible for the security of the president... I did not see any police victim except the president and his wife. If you are responsible for the security of the president where were you?'
Officials said they are still looking for the 'intellectual authors' of the plot. National Police Director Leon Charles said 'we have the physical perpetrators in hand and we are looking for the instigators.'
It also emerged that the hit squad stayed at a home recently vacated by politician Magalie Habitant, an apparent ally of the murdered president.
However, she claims she left the property in Thomassin three months ago and hired it from a lawyer.
Habitant was implicated in a 2019 plot when seven heavily-armed foreign mercenaries were arrested in Haiti before fleeing the country. She was suspected of buying the vehicles used by the group and was temporarily banned from leaving the country.
In total, Haiti National Police said there were 28 presumed assassins responsible for Wednesday's raid, with 17 arrested, three dead and eight still at large.
Solages (left) and Joseph Vincent (right) are seen at a Thursday press conference where Haitian authorities paraded the detained suspects. The two US citizens allegedly claimed they were hired as translators in a plot to arrest the Haitian president but not to kill him
Haitian Prosecutor Me Bed-Ford Claude said he had requested the interrogation of Jean Laguel Civil, Moïse's security coordinator, (left with the president) and Dimitri Hérard, head of the General Security Unit of the National Palace (right), as he suggested it might be an inside job and demanded to know: 'where were you?'
US will send federal law enforcement and COVID-19 vaccines to Haiti
It has now also been claimed that the alleged mercenaries stayed in the home of Magalie Habitant (pictured) - an ally of the murdered president and prominent member of the PHTK political party
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and First Lady Martine are pictured together in 2017. Moïse was riddled with 12 bullet holes and had his eye gouged out during Wednesday's brutal attack, which killed him and seriously injured his wife
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