Haiti ex-president’s wife and former PM indicted in assassination investigation

The wife of Haiti’s former President Jovenel Moïse, Martine Marie Étienne Moïse, and former Prime Minister Claude Joseph are among 51 people indicted over the assassination of the former president, according to a 122-page document from Judge Walther Wesser Voltaire which was made public online by the Haitian news site AyiboPost. The document alleged on Monday that Martine Marie Étienne Moïse conspired with the former prime minister to replace the then-president.

Despite being critically wounded during the attack, Martine Marie Étienne Moïse now faces accusations of complicity in her husband’s assassination. The indictment alleged that her statements have been contradicted by other witnesses, raising suspicions about her involvement in the crime. Specifically, she is charged with conspiracy to murder.

However, the indictment does not directly implicate Martine Marie Étienne Moïse in planning the assassination or provide concrete evidence of her participation. Instead, it relies on testimonies from other individuals, including a key witness, Joseph Badio, who himself is implicated in orchestrating the assassination. Badio’s claims about Martine Marie Étienne Moïse’s involvement, along with purported contradictions in her statement, form the basis of the accusations against her.

Beyond the legal intricacies of the indictments, the case surrounding the former president’s assassination is deeply intertwined with Haiti’s volatile political landscape. The aftermath of the assassination has exacerbated existing tensions, including a surge in gang violence and political instability. The investigation has also brought scrutiny to the Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK), the political party to which President Jovenel Moïse belonged, as several individuals affiliated with the party have been implicated in the case, further complicating the legal landscape surrounding the assassination.

In a comment to JURIST, Haitian-Canadian activist and dissident Jean Saint-Vil said, “[T]he fact that Moïse’s assassination was an inside job involving his closest associates within the PHTK was expected from many Haitian observers, including myself.” Saint-Vil continued:

The current situation underlies the disastrous consequences of the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti & 2004 coup, which toppled the entire state apparatus, including the country’s judicial system where thugs were put in power instead of the duly elected and duly appointed Haitian rulers.