Jovenel Moise
What We Know So Far About Haiti President Jovenel Moise’s Assassination John Moore/Getty Images

A businessman who is accused of involvement in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise was arrested and charged by the United States. Rodolphe Jaar was in federal custody and faced criminal charges in his initial court hearing in Miami after being detained in the Dominican Republic.

According to the Associated Press, the 49-year-old Haitian-Chilean citizen is one of several suspects who was at large for several months following Moise’s assassination in July last year.

"Jaar is charged with conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States and 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. Jaar is the second individual to be charged and arrested in the United States for his role in the assassination plot," the US Department of Justice said in a press release.

He has also been accused of providing weapons to former Colombian soldiers who killed the country’s leader. Jaar was convicted previously of drug-trafficking charges and was once an informant for the US government. The businessman has been involved in cocaine smuggling with an indictment in 2013 on charges of smuggling cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela through channels in Haiti and into the US. Jaar pleaded guilty to these charges and was sentenced to four years in prison.

His involvement in the assassination plot brought to light nearly 40 people who have been arrested. These include 18 Colombian soldiers, one of whom was Marco Antonio Palacios who is the second foreigner extradited to the US to face similar charges linked to Moise’s killing. Palacios was captured in Jamaica for illegal entry and deported back to his home country. However, while on layover to Panama he was intercepted by authorities and extradited from Panama to Miami. Later on, he was handed over to authorities in south Florida where he remains in custody.

A judge has assigned Jaar a public defender and a detention hearing has been set for Jan. 26. He may be freed on bond if his attorney requests so, although prosecutors will most likely be opposed to this. Another arraignment is scheduled for Jaar on Feb. 3, wherein he could declare himself innocent or plead guilty. Palacios’ second court appearance is set for Jan.31.

During the hearing, Jaar was said to have responded to the judge’s questions in English as he was asked if he could afford his own attorney or if he required a public defender. He told the judge that he once owned a business in Haiti but has not received any income from it in over 6 months and has only $2,000 in his personal bank account.

If courts convicts Jaar and Palacios of all their charges, they both could be handed out life sentences.

Martine Moise
Martine Moise was spotted wearing an arm sling and a protective vest. Official Twitter account of the Secretary of State for Communication / Twitter

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