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Colombian accused of murdering the president of Haiti will plead not guilty

Colombian accused of murdering the president of Haiti will plead not guilty

Colombian accused of murdering the president of Haiti will plead not guilty

Mario Palacios, a Colombian charged in the United States for his alleged involvement in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, will plead not guilty to the crimes charged, his Miami, Florida, attorney announced Friday.

The 43-year-old retired military officer is accused of participating “in a plot to kidnap or murder” Moise last July, according to the US Justice Department.

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Palacios “is going to plead not guilty,” declared his lawyer, Alfredo Izaguirre, as he left the Miami court where the case is being tried.

The accused appeared in court this Friday for the reading of his charges. But he obtained a postponement of his hearing, alleging that he had not been able to meet with his lawyer, first due to being quarantined by covid-19 and then due to the closure of prisons throughout the country, as a result of a fight that occurred in Texas.

The Colombian citizen, accused of being part of a group of about 20 men who killed the Haitian president at his residence in Port-au-Prince, was arrested on January 3 at a Panama airport.

That day, Palacios was going to Colombia, but made a stopover in the Central American country after a flight from Jamaica. He was extradited to Miami after his arrest by Panamanian authorities.

This artistic rendering shows Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios with his attorney Alfredo Izaguirre before federal judge Jacqueline Becarra in federal court in Miami. (Photo: Daniel Pontet via AP) (Daniel Pontet/)

US justice is competent in this case because the plot against the Haitian president was coordinated, at least in part, in Florida.

Another suspect in Moise’s murder, 49-year-old Haitian-Chilean Rodolphe Jaar, was indicted Jan. 20 in Miami on the same charges as Palacios.

In the case of Jaar, the Dominican Republic extradited him to the United States after detaining him on January 7 in its territory.

If Palacios and Jaar are found guilty, they face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The US Attorney’s Office assures that the plot against Moise “initially focused on kidnapping the president”, but “ended up leading to an assassination plan”.

More than 40 people, including 15 Colombians and Haitian-Americans, have been detained in connection with the investigation.

However, many questions remain about the motives for the murder, which has plunged Haiti, a country plagued by poverty, insecurity and corruption, into even more uncertainty.

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Source: Elcomercio

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