By Sarah Morland
(Reuters) – A dual Haitian-Chilean citizen pleaded guilty in a U.S. court on Friday to three charges involving his role in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, gunned down in his home in 2021.
According to court documents, Rodolphe Jaar is one of 11 defendants in the case, which includes businessmen accused of helping obtain vehicles and firearms from Florida and former Colombian soldiers accused of killing Moise in his bedroom.
According to a plea statement Jaar signed on Friday, he provided personnel and funds to kidnap Moise, but the initial plan later turned into a murder plot. Some of the funds were used to buy weapons and pay bribes to the some of the president’s security detail, the statement said.
Jaar met with the co-conspirators the night before the assassination, according to the statement, at which time Haitian-American James Solages stated the aim was to kill Moise.
The court document added that Jaar also met other defendants, including former Haitian Senator Joseph Joel John, Haitian-American Joseph Vincent, Colombian ex-military officer German Rivera and Antonio Intriago, the Venezuelan owner of a Miami-based private security firm.
Jaar has also been accused of helping a group of Colombians implicated in the case to hide from Haitian authorities, according to U.S. Department of Justice statement following his arrest last year.
Jaar was detained in the neighboring Dominican Republic in early 2022.
Sentencing for Jaar, who faces up to life in prison, is set for June 2 in Miami, court filings showed. Jaar’s lawyer declined to comment.
Moise’s murder left a gaping political vacuum in the Caribbean nation and emboldened powerful gangs. The gangs now control large parts of the country as a humanitarian crisis with at least 160,000 people recently displaced plays out, amid calls to send foreign forces to boost out-gunned local police.
(Reporting by Sarah Morland; Editing by Anthony Esposito, Grant McCool and Marguerita Choy)