11 suspects behind assassination of Haitian President arrested within Taiwan's embassy

Haiti has called for the U.S. to deploy troops to help stabilise the situation.

Matthias Ang | July 10, 2021, 03:11 PM

11 of the suspects behind the assassination of the President of Haiti have been arrested in the island's Taiwanese embassy, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry stated on June 9.

President shot in his own home

According to The Wall Street Journal, the suspects had entered the embassy's grounds on June 8, Thursday, a day after Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his own home by assailants armed with high-caliber weapons.

The assault also saw Moïse's wife, Martine Moïse, left in critical condition. She has since been evacuated to Miami in the U.S. for medical treatment.

Haiti police chief Leon Charles said that four of the suspected assailants were shot to death by the National police within the district where the President resided, during a gun fight.

Taiwan has further described the suspects as "mercenaries", while Haiti's Interim Prime Minister, Claude Joseph, has called the incident "a highly coordinated attack by a highly trained and heavily armed group."

Embassy mostly empty during break-in

The Washington Post further reported that the embassy had closed for security reasons on the same day as Moïse's assassination for security.

As such, it was mostly empty when the suspects entered, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, Joanne Ou, said.

The breach was subsequently discovered by the embassy's security, who called the Haitian police.

Ou added that apart from some broken doors and windows, no other property was lost or damaged.

She was also quoted as adding:

"At this difficult time, the government of Taiwan reiterates its support for Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph in leading Haiti to overcome this crisis and restore democratic order. Taiwan strongly condemns this violent and barbarian act."

What is the significance of Taiwan's and Haiti's relationship?

Haiti is one of only 15 countries in the world that still has formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

As such, the Caribbean nation does not have ties with China, given that both China and Taiwan do not accept diplomatic relations with a country that recognises the other.

Taiwan has also provided support to Haiti in various forms.

In September 2020, Moïse thanked Taiwan for helping to upgrade Haiti's electricity grid, Taiwanese media Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

Taiwan also donated over 280,000 face masks, 1,000 tons of rice, seven thermal cameras and new ambulances, in response to Moïse's visit to the embassy in April 2020 to discuss improving ties in response to Covid-19, The Diplomat reported.

Haiti to hold elections in wake of assassination, calls for U.S. troops to help stabilise the country

In the meantime, Haiti has requested for the U.S. to deploy troops to the country to protect key infrastructure to help stabilise the island as it prepares for an election following the assassination, AP News reported.

Senior FBI and Department of Homeland security officials will also be sent to Haiti to help assess the situation.

Thus far, a total of 17 suspects have been arrested.

Colombia has also pledged their cooperation in the investigation, given that 15 Colombians have been implicated in the attack, with 13 of them being retired members of the military.

Among these 13 Colombians, 11 have been captured, while two have been killed, with their ranks ranging from lieutenant colonel to soldier.

One of Colombia's generals, Jorge Luis Varga Valencia, has said that four companies were involved in recruiting the people involved in the assassination, although he did not specify who these companies were.

Top photos via Police Nationale d'Haiti - PNH Facebook