Businessman Samir Handal detained at Istanbul airport on flight from US to Jordan early on Monday
Last modified on Tue 16 Nov 2021 04.11 EST
Turkish authorities have arrested a man considered a suspect of “great interest” in the assassination in July of the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, Haiti’s foreign minister, Claude Joseph, has said.
The suspect, Samir Handal, a businessman, was detained at Istanbul airport early on Monday, where he arrived in transit from the US to Jordan, Anadolu Agency reported. His arrest was announced by authorities in Haiti later on Monday.
Moïse, a 53-year-old former businessman who took office in 2017, was shot dead at his private residence and his wife was wounded in the attack. A group of Colombian mercenaries emerged as the main suspects though nobody has been charged or convicted in connection with the case.
“I just had a phone conversation with the Turkish minister, my friend Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, to thank Turkey for the arrest of Samir Handal, one of the persons of great interest in the investigation into the assassination of the president,” Joseph tweeted. He gave no further details, including whether Haiti would seek the man’s extradition.
Anadolu Agency said Handal was wanted on an Interpol notice and later questioned by court officials, who issued the 40-day temporary custody order at the request of Turkey’s justice ministry. He wasbeing held in Istanbul’s Maltepe prison, the agency reported.
More than 40 suspects have been arrested so far in relation to Moïse’s murder, including 18 former Colombian soldiers and several Haitian police officers.
Colombian authorities have said the majority of its former soldiers did not know the true nature of the operation they were hired to participate in. In October, another Colombian man was arrested in Jamaica.
Moïse’s killing deepened political instability in the country. After the killing, Haiti was struck by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in August that killed more than 2,200 people, a rise in gang-related violence and a severe shortage of fuel.