The second Haitian president assassination suspect to be caught in Jamaica paid handsomely to get here with his family by sea, and tried to bribe law enforcers who arrested him early Saturday morning in a St Elizabeth village in south-western Jamaica, the Jamaica Observer can report.
Former Haitian Opposition Senator John Joel Joseph is one of three key suspects being hunted in relation to the July 2021 assassination of former Haitian President Jovenel Moise.
In his bid to flee arrest and prosecution, Joseph was said by investigators to have paid US$12,000 to get to Jamaica by boat last December. He was accompanied by his wife and their two children when he successfully made the trip here, and regularly paid community folk in Warminster village, near Alumina Partners, in the constituency of St Elizabeth South Eastern, to keep his identity away from the radar of snoopers, telling them often that he wanted to “find a better life here”, information reaching the Sunday Observer suggested.
When he was held by police, acting on a tip, Joseph was said to have also offered $2 million to law enforcers as a bribe.
According to Sunday Observer sources, the former lawmaker begged police officers not to allow him to be deported, claiming that he “would be killed” if he were to be returned to his homeland.
The Sunday Observer was told that Joseph, who did not attempt to deny his identity, was found with a stash of documents all written in French, which investigators are going over in a bid to get more details.
Joseph, who had a US$61,000 bounty placed on his head, was holed up in a house with his wife, said to be an attorney-at-law. The children, one of whom is 18 years old, were sleeping in another house nearby.
Up to the time of his capture, about 2:00 am, Joseph and his family were being aided by community folk in their everyday activities.
The Sunday Observer was informed that the former senator, who is one of three suspects that the National Police of Haiti (PNH) issued three wanted notices for in July last year, got the money through his cash-rich co-conspirator for the journey by boat — a common occurrence by Haitians, though many of them head to Jamaica because of tough economic conditions in the French-speaking country which borders the Dominican Republic, and forms the country of Hispaniola.
In the meantime, United States and Haitian law enforcement officials, who were informed of the development, have been in dialogue with Jamaican police.
Later on Saturday, Joseph's identity was confirmed by Haitian officials, the Sunday Observer was told.
And the police are following other lines of enquiries, as it is believed that Joseph, who has collected large sums of cash since he has been on the island, is being supported by well-connected individuals who bankrolled the president's assassination.
Moise was killed on July 7 when a hit team burst into the president's residence and shot him. His wife Martine was wounded but survived. Judicial police have questioned at last 21 presidential guards who were present on the fateful night.
In July last year the National Police of Haiti issued three wanted notices for men who they said are accused of “murder, attempted murder and armed robbery”.
Among the men were the former legislator, Rodolphe Jaar, a businessman and manager of several companies; and Joseph Félix Badio, a former official of the Unit for the Fight against Corruption (ULCC).
Also in July last year, the police announced that a Florida-based doctor had been arrested in connection with the killing.
Earlier this month, Colombian Mario Antonio Palacios, who was arrested in Jamaica in October, was being deported to his native Colombia when Interpol notified him during a stopover in Panama that the US Government was extraditing him.
Palacios has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States in relation to President Moïse's assassination.
The 43-year-old ex-Colombian army officer is also charged with providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap.