A court in Istanbul ordered Samir Handal back into custody as the man accused of involvement in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise sought release in a hearing on Monday.
Handal was detained at Istanbul Airport in November 2021 as he was traveling to Jordan on a connecting flight. He was one of the suspects wanted with an international “red notice” by Interpol over Moise’s assassination on July 7, 2021. He is held at a maximum-security prison in the capital Ankara. He attended the hearing via videolink.
The court said Haitian authorities did not respond yet to a letter on assurances over the sentencing of Handal if convicted, to check whether he would be subject to hard labor. The court sought more assurances whether his sentencing would comply with international human rights agreements that Turkey is party to.
For his part, Handal denied the charges and claimed he was simply named in the assassination plot for renting out a place to the suspects involved in the attempt. He claimed he was not aware of any plot when he rented an office to a doctor indicted in the assassination. His Turkish lawyer asked the court to release him, citing the removal of an Interpol red notice. The hearing was postponed to a yet unscheduled date.
After Moise’s killing, authorities scrambled to bring the suspects to justice, conducting an international manhunt. Most recently, a former Haitian senator has appeared before a U.S. court in Miami for involvement in the murder. John Joel Joseph was extradited from Jamaica to the United States earlier this month. He faces charges of conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside the U.S. and providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap. He faces a possible life sentence.
According to a criminal complaint, Joseph and others, including about 20 Colombian citizens and several dual Haitian-American citizens, participated in a plot to kidnap or kill Haiti's president, who was ultimately slain at his home in Haiti on July 7.
Joseph is one of more than 40 suspects arrested in the presidential slaying, and the third one to be extradited to the U.S. to face charges as the proceedings in Haiti languish, with at least two judges stepping down from the case. The other two suspects recently extradited to the U.S. are Haitian-Chilean businessperson Rodolphe Jaar, who was arrested in the Dominican Republic in January, and Colombian ex-soldier Mario Antonio Palacios, who was arrested in Jamaica in October.
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