A new Haitian chief prosecutor was sworn in on Tuesday just hours after his predecessor asked a judge to charge Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry in the slaying of the president and to bar him from leaving the nation.
The request filed by Port-au-Prince Prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude, who was fired by Henry, came on the same day that the prosecutor had asked that the prime minister attend a meeting to explain why he spoke twice on telephone calls with a key suspect in the assassination of former Haitian president Jovenel Moise just hours after the killing.
“There are enough compromising elements ... to prosecute Henry and ask for his outright indictment,” Claude wrote before he was replaced by Frantz Louis Juste.
A spokesman for Henry could not be reached for comment.
It was not clear whether Claude was officially removed before he made the request to the judge.
The Associated Press obtained a letter dated Monday in which Henry told Claude that he was being fired for an undefined “serious administrative fault” and that the decision was effective as soon as he received the document.
Claude did not respond to a request for comment on his firing or when he got the letter.
The phone calls were made at 4:03am and 4:20am on July 7, Claude said, adding that evidence shows the suspect, Joseph Badio, was in the vicinity of Moise’s home at that time.
Badio once worked for the Haitian Ministry of Justice and at the government’s anti-corruption unit until he was fired in May amid accusations of contravening unspecified ethics rules.
In the two-page document, Claude said that the calls lasted a total of seven minutes and that Henry was at the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince at the time.
The prosecutor also said that a government official wrote on Twitter last month that Henry told him he never spoke with Badio.
Brian Concannon, an adviser for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said he did not expect much to change, despite the appointment of a new prosecutor.
“A lot of this is theater,” Concannon said.
The assassination case is in the hands of Judge Garry Orelien and he can decide whether to pursue an investigation of Henry even if the new prosecutor advises otherwise, Concannon said.
The judge has three months to determine whether to take action, he said.
Robert Fatton, a Haitian politics expert at the University of Virginia, said there was clearly a power struggle within the government between Henry and those who supported Moise.
“We have a very confusing situation, a power struggle at the moment, and we will see who will win it,” Fatton said. “It’s not clear where we are going, and it’s not clear what the international community thinks about everything.”
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