Suspects in the investigation of the Haitian president's death met for months before the operation to plan what their next move would be once the president was out of power, people involved in the discussions and authorities in Colombia and Haiti said, The New York Times reported.
The meetings discussed Christian Emmanuel Sanon becoming the new prime minister of Haiti after President Jovenel Moïse was deposed, Haiti officials said. However, those in the meetings say there was never a plan to kill Moïse.
Parnell Duverger, a retired adjunct economics professor at Broward College in Florida, said he attended 10 of the meetings discussing Sanon taking over as prime minister, but said there was no talk of a coup or an assassination.
“I would have stopped attending if anyone mentioned a coup, let alone murder,” Duverger said, according to the NYT.
“At the time of the meetings he was, we all believed, going to become a prime minister,” he added.
Duverger contests that the group believed the calls for Moïse to step down would work, and Sanon could form a transitional government after the president resigned.
“I keep asking myself, 'There must be something wrong with me for being so naïve.' I believed him. I believed that, because I believed a new transitional government was needed in Haiti,” he said.
Frantz Gilot, a consultant for the United Nations who also attended the meetings, said there was never any talk of killing Haiti’s president.
“Sanon introduced himself as a potential candidate,” Gilot said, “and talked about his dream and vision for Haiti.”
Two Americans who were arrested for their involvement in the assassination, James Solages and Joseph Vincent, previously said the plan was to kidnap, not kill, the president.