Haitian police on Thursday arrested 11 suspects believed to be involved in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise on Wednesday for forcibly entering the grounds of the Taiwan Embassy in Haiti, Taiwan News reported.
“Early Thursday morning the embassy’s security team discovered a band of armed men had breached the facility’s security perimeter,” Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Joanne Ou told Taiwan News on July 9.
“The men had managed to make their way past the security guard station and entered the embassy’s courtyard. Upon discovering the breach, security personnel immediately notified embassy staff and the Haitian police,” according to Ou.
“Embassy staff approved a request from the Haitian government to deploy police into the compound to conduct a search for the suspects. Police launched the operation at 4:00 p.m. that afternoon and apprehended 11 armed suspects,” Ou said.
“Based on an initial inspection, the embassy sustained some minor damage during the intrusion, including broken windows and doors,” she revealed, adding, “The Haitian National Police have since taken the men into custody for questioning.”
“No staff members were in the embassy at the time [of the security breach],” Ou said. Taiwanese government officials closed the embassy on July 7 “for safety reasons” shortly after the assassination of President Moise and ordered staff to work from home, according to Ou.
While Ou said it remained “unclear” why the armed gunmen chose to enter the grounds of the Taiwanese embassy, Agence France-Presse (AFP) suggested the unoccupied building may have offered the group a practical hiding spot as they presumedly fled the scene of President Moise’s murder on July 7.
“Taipei’s embassy in Port-au-Prince lies close to the hillside private residence where Moise was gunned down,” according to AFP.
“Haiti is one of just 15 nations that diplomatically recognises Taiwan over China. Most of them are small nations in Latin America and the Pacific,” the French news agency noted.
Local news site Haiti 24 published a photo of five suspects apprehended at the Taiwan Embassy on July 8.
“Five of the mercenaries who participated in the bloody attack which cost the life of the Head of State, Jovenel Moïse, on the night of Tuesday July 6 to Wednesday July 7, took refuge at the Taiwanese Embassy in Haiti, after the attack,” Haiti 24 wrote in a caption accompanying the photo.
“James Solages is among the arrested suspects and is said to be an American citizen,” Haiti 24 revealed, adding, ” [Haitian Elections] Minister Mathias Pierre confirmed that the person in question is from Fort Lauderdale [in the U.S. state of Florida].”
Haitian police have arrested “seventeen individuals … (15 Colombians and two Haitian-Americans),” in connection with the assassination of President Moise, the local Haitian news site AyiboPost reported on July 9.
According to AyiboPost, “28 assailants took part in the assassination operation of the president, among them, 26 Colombians. Three people were killed [in subsequent gun battles with Haitian police] and eight are on the run.”
Haitian security forces found President Moise dead at his private residence in Port-au-Prince in the early morning hours of July 8. The Haitian leader was killed in “a highly coordinated attack by a highly trained and heavily armed group,” interim Haitian Prime Minister Claude Joseph told reporters at the time.
“Mr Moïse, 53, was found lying on his back with 12 bullet wounds and a gouged eye,” Haiti government authorities told reporters this week, according to the BBC. President Moise’s wife, Martine Moise, was also shot multiple times during the attack. The Haitian first lady was airlifted to a hospital in Florida on Wednesday, where she reportedly remained in a serious but “stable condition” as of Friday.