Haitian presidential guard leader detained

Haitian presidential guard leader detained
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The head of security at Haiti’s presidential palace has been detained by police amid the ongoing probe into Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination, local police and justice officials said Thursday.

The Washington Post reported that Dimitri Hérard had been taken into custody, citing confirmation from a Haitian prosecutor, a spokesperson for Haiti’s prime minister and a colleague of Hérard.

Marie Michelle Verrier, a spokeswoman for Haiti’s National Police, told The New York Times that the presidential guard and two other top bodyguards had been called in for questioning this week.

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Carl Martin, who said he was coordinating Hérard's legal defense team, told CNN that the presidential security chief had been questioned at the Haitian inspector general’s office Wednesday before being transferred to a police station in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

CNN reported that Hérard earlier Wednesday did not appear for a court-ordered inquiry from Port-au-Prince’s public prosecutor, citing his mandatory questioning at the inspector general’s office. 

It was not immediately clear if police have levied any charges against Hérard, who has faced scrutiny in recent days over questions on how an alleged team of assassins were able to evade him and his security team to sneak into Moïse’s home and fatally shoot the president in the early hours of July 7. 

The Post reported that Haitian police chief Léon Charles said at a news conference Wednesday evening that four high-ranking members of the president’s security detail were being held as authorities looked to locate other individuals potentially involved in the assassination. 

Charles did not specify if Hérard was one of the four individuals to whom he was referring.

Authorities have thus far arrested at least 20 people in connection with Moïse’s killing, including three Americans of Haitian descent. 

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The Times reported Thursday that some of the suspects allegedly met for months ahead of the Haitian president’s death to plan potential next moves they could take once the leader was removed from power. 

Haitian officials said the meetings discussed Christian Emmanuel Sanon becoming the new prime minister of Haiti after Moïse was killed, though those involved in the discussions who spoke to the Times said there was never a plot to kill the president. 

Two Americans who were arrested in connection with the assassination, James J. Solages and Joseph Vincent, previously said that they had planned to kidnap the president, rather than assassinate him.