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Haitian judge in Moise murder investigation quits as corruption accusations emerge


PORT-AU-PRINCE — Judge Gary Orélien has stepped down from the investigation into the assassination of former President Jovenel Moïse. The Jan. 21 decision comes days after corruption allegations involving Orelien became public and follows a higher court ruling rejecting his request to extend the investigation deadline. 

The National Network for the Defense of Human Rights, or RNDDH, accused Orelien of using the investigation “to enrich himself,” according to a Jan. 19 Le Nouvelliste report. RNDDH officials requested an investigation of Orelien, saying that the judge received US $20,000 to lift a ban on leaving the country that had been issued against one person implicated in the murder. Orélien had also requested money from fugitives against whom Haitian authorities had issued arrest warrants.

Moise’s widow Martine Moïse also asked the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSPJ) to look into the RNDDH report of Orélien, Le Nouvelliste reported.

Orélien has rejected the RNDDH allegations and challenged RNDDH to produce evidence.

Prior to the allegations, the Court of First Instance of Port-au-Prince had also denied Orélien’s request to extend the timing for completing the inquiry.

Orélien first took on the international assassination case Aug. 21, two weeks after his predecessor, Judge Mathieu Chanlatte, stepped down citing personal reasons. Soon after the announcement, activists questioned Orélien’s credentials and ability to carry out the investigation. 

Orélien has interviewed Moïse’s widow, former lawmakers, police officers, and numerous suspects during his tenure. However, charges have not been formalized for more than 30 people arrested in the probe.

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