Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Tuesday fired his top prosecutor, who was seeking charges against the prime minister for the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise.
Henry’s decision to fire Bed-Ford Claude came hours after the prosecutor asked the judge investigating Moise’s murder to accuse the prime minister of being involved in the case.
“I am pleased to inform you that it was decided to terminate your post,” the prime minister said in a publicly circulated letter.
Claude, who was the government commissioner in Port-au-Prince, the equivalent of a federal prosecutor, had made the request because of alleged phone calls Henry made with one of the main suspects in the hours after the murder.
“There are enough compromising elements that form (my) conviction about the advisability of prosecuting Mr. Henry and requesting his direct indictment,” Claude wrote in an official letter addressed to a court in Port-au-Prince.
In a second letter, sent to the director of immigration administration, Claude requested that Henry be prohibited from leaving the island nation “due to serious presumptions of assassination of the President of the Republic.”
Moise, a politically and publicly controversial figure, was assassinated during the night of July 6-7 when an armed group broke into his private residence in the Haitian capital.
Henry had already been asked to appear for questioning in the case about the alleged conversations he had just hours after Moise’s murder, with a former government official wanted in connection with the murder.
Police are still looking for former official Joseph Felix Badio, who worked in the anti-corruption unit of the Ministry of Justice.
Badio’s phone was allegedly traced to the area near Moise’s residence when Badio called Henry twice in the early hours of July 7, after gunmen shot dead the president.
In his letter to the judge, Claude said the calls lasted a total of seven minutes. He also noted that a government official tweeted last month that Henry claimed he never spoke to Badio.
Henry was appointed prime minister by Moise days before the president’s death and was sworn in on July 20, pledging to improve the dire security situation in the country and to organize long-delayed elections.
A prime minister cannot legally be questioned unless authorized by the president, but after Moise’s assassination, Haiti has no president.
So far, 44 people, including 18 Colombians and two Americans of Haitian descent, have been arrested in connection with the murder investigation. None of the president’s security guards were injured in the attack.
Henry on Saturday criticized the earlier request that he be questioned, saying: “These diversionary tactics, designed to create confusion and prevent justice from taking its course in stride, will not be upheld.”
“Those who are truly guilty, the intellectual authors of the heinous assassination of President Jovenel Moise and those who ordered it, will be found, brought to justice and punished for their actions.”