Nearly Two Dozen Arrested For Involvement in Haitian President’s Assassination
As more are arrested, officials hope to be able to identify why Moise was targeted and who ordered the attack on the president and his wife.
Rounding Up “Mercenaries”
At least 17 people, including 15 Colombians and the two Americans, were detained by Haitian police Thursday in connection to the assassination of President Jovenel Moise
One of the Americans was identified by Reuters as 35-year-old James Solages, a founder of a Florida charity that described him as a “certified diplomatic agent” who previously worked as a bodyguard for the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince.
On Wednesday, shortly after the assassination, four were arrested after their group engaged in a shootout with police that left at least four assailants dead. Since then, nearly two dozen more have been detained over their alleged involvement in the plot to kill Moise, and seven in total have been killed.
Two of those arrested were detained by locals after they were seen hiding in bushes relatively close to the President’s residence. Another 11 were arrested after they broke into the Taiwanese embassy in Port-au-Prince heavily armed and in full-military garb.
Officials at the facility notified Haitian police, who then faced off with the would-be escapees before arresting them. Taiwanese officials described the assailants as “mercenaries,” mirroring terminology used by the Haitian government.
In a statement, Ambassador Joanne Ou said, “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’s Haitian ambassador Joanne Ou said in a statement. “Taiwan strongly condemns this violent and barbarian act.”
Haiti remains one of only 15 countries that officially recognizes the Republic of China, Taiwan’s official name, as an independent country with sovereignty over all of China.
Still Lacking a Reason Why
The plot to kill Moise proved to be large and well-prepared after over two dozen heavily armed men assaulted his private home. Security at the home has been described as lacking, partly because Haitian presidents have resided in their own homes since the presidential palace was destroyed following a devastating earthquake in 2010.
It still remains unclear who hired the men and why the target was put on his head; however, the list is unlikely to be small. Moise was wildly unpopular both in Haiti and internationally, especially after he refused to step down from power in February. He argued that because he took office late, he was entitled to another year, even though his term’s end date was constitutionally ensured.
Currently, two men both claim to be interim-Prime Minister: Claude Joseph and Ariel Henry. Joseph was Prime Minister until just before Moise’s death, when Henry was appointed. Joseph argues that Henry never formally took the office and thus was never actually prime minister.
Most foreign governments and Haitian officials seem to agree and Joseph is most often referred to as in charge of Haiti.
The situation has proven to be tense, with many fearing political chaos and violence. Joseph has promised to ensure that elections will finally be held in September of this year to install a new president and government.
See what others are saying: (CBS News) (The Washington Post) (The Wall Street Journal)
95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home
The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.
A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.
Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.
At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.
They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.
The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.
She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.
Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.
After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.
Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.
See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)
U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”
The Public Order Act
A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.
The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”
It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.
“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”
An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests
During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated.
“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed.
“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”
Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”
“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote.
When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police.
For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.
“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages
The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.
As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.
On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.
An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.
“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.
Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.
More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.
Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.
Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.
Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.
Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.