Video shows Haitian civilians apprehending two suspects in the assassination of the president
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Haitian authorities have carried out 21 arrests since a group of armed mercenaries assassinated President Jovenel Moïse in his home in Pétionville on July 7. But some of these arrests would not have been possible without the assistance of the local population, who identified suspected mercenaries and turned them over to the police. Several videos posted online show a crowd violently apprehending two suspects in a shantytown called Jalousie on July 8.
Both Haitian and Colombian authorities made statements on July 8 that former soldiers from the Colombian Army were part of the group that assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, as well as two Haitian-Americans.
>> Read on The Observers: Neighbours of assassinated Haitian president 'heard gunshots for two hours'
The director-general of the Haitian police, Léon Charles, said that a group of "mercenaries" made up of 26 Colombians and two Americans of Haitian origin carried out the “operation to assassinate the president”. As of July 12, three suspects had been killed while five others were still at large.
Several videos showing suspected mercenaries in detention were posted on the Facebook page of the Office of the Haitian Prime Minister on July 8.
Among these men, at least two of them were identified and detained by civilians living in Jalousie, in Pétionville, on the morning of July 8. You can clearly see the faces and clothing of the two men in videos of the citizen arrest. The same two men appear in the video published by the Office of the Haitian Prime Minister.
'People noticed that the men were unarmed but wearing military-style clothing'
Marc Ancel Chéry, the director of the local media outlet the Jalouzi Post, was on the scene when the crowd apprehended the two suspects.
I arrived at the minibus station when the crowd had already seized the two men. People were saying that they saw them in the fields below the slum, in an area that people call "Chechnya".
People took note of the two suspects because when someone tried to approach them, they hit the person. People noticed that they were unarmed but wearing military-style clothing, including boots. They didn't speak French or Creole, only Spanish. So the people could not communicate properly with them but decided to hand them over to the police.
'Some might have imagined the crown lynching them, or worse, killing them'
They bound the two men with rope and, although I didn’t see it with my own eyes, they beat them as well because one of the men was bleeding when he arrived at the police station.
The police took less than an hour to arrive and then the officers took charge of the men.
It doesn’t surprise me at all that these men, if they are indeed the mercenaries who assassinated the president, would try to hide in our neighbourhood. We are located just a few kilometres from the president’s home [Editor’s note: 1.2km as the crow flies]. The way the shantytown is built would make it hard for police to follow them there. The roads are narrow and winding.
The day after the assassination, we heard gunfire near the Kinam Hotel on the edge of the shantytown. So we knew that the suspects were nearby.
I was glad, however, to see the population hand the men over to the police under these circumstances. Some might have imagined the crown lynching them, or worse, killing them. But the people remained relatively calm.