Martine Moïse, who was injured in attack on her husband, recounts moment assassins opened fire
Last modified on Fri 30 Jul 2021 12.45 EDT
The widow of Haiti’s recently assassinated president has said she suspects his murder was engineered by wealthy Haitian “oligarchs” who have yet to be apprehended.
Martine Moïse, who survived the 7 July assault in which her husband, Jovenel Moïse, was shot dead, told the New York Times (NYT) she was unconvinced Haitian police – who have detained more than 20 suspects – had identified those who ordered and bankrolled the murder.
“Only the oligarchs and the system could kill him,” Moïse, who was in the bedroom with her husband at the moment he was gunned down, was quoted as saying.
“I would like [the] people who did this to be caught, otherwise they will kill every single president who takes power,” she added. “They did it once. They will do it again.”
Those comments – her first to a newspaper since the assassination – echoed recent remarks from a senior Haitian minister who said he believed the “big fishes” behind the president’s murder remained at large.
“There are more powerful people behind this,” said the elections minister, Mathias Pierre.
Haitian police allege the assassination was carried out by a group of Colombian mercenaries – 18 of whom were captured and three killed – who stormed the presidential compound in Port-au-Prince in the early hours of 7 July after posing as US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents.
Police claim one key conspirator was Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Florida-based pastor with an apparent plan to become Haiti’s leader. He was arrested on 11 July and this week authorities said they were also searching for the supreme court judge Wendelle Coq Thélot in connection with the crime.
But many in Haiti, among them members of the dead president’s family, are sceptical the plot stops there. Speaking at Moïse’s funeral in the northern city of Cap-Haïtien last week, his son Joverlein reportedly said his father had been “living among traitors”. Martine Moïse told mourners her husband had been “abandoned and betrayed”.
She told the NYT of the terrifying moment the killers entered the bedroom she shared with her husband of 25 years, guns blazing.
“The only thing that I saw before they killed him were their boots. Then I closed my eyes, and I didn’t see anything else,” she said.
She recalled lying on the floor and listening as the intruders ransacked the room, rummaging through her husband’s files. “That’s not it. That’s not it,” she remembered them saying repeatedly in Spanish, before one announced: “That’s it.”
“They were looking for something in the room, and they found it,” Martine Moïse said.
The first lady, who was shot in the elbow as the attackers entered the room, remained on the floor as the gunmen retreated, apparently thinking she was dead.
She said she was giving serious thought to running for the presidency of her crisis-stricken and profoundly impoverished country, which has yet to recover from the devastation of a 2010 earthquake that levelled the capital and killed more than 200,000 people.
“President Jovenel had a vision and we Haitians are not going to let that die,” she said.