Suspect in Haitian President Jovenel Moïse's Assassination, Wanted by Interpol, Arrested in Turkey

Turkish authorities arrested a suspect wanted by Interpol in connection with the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.

A man, considered to be a suspect of "great interest" in the July extermination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has been arrested in Turkey. Haiti's foreign minister, Claude Joseph informed of the arrest, which was made on Monday, November 15. According to Anadolu Agency, the suspect was detained at Istanbul airport, while he was in transit from the US to Jordan.

Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, 53, who acquired the office in 2017, was assassinated by a group of armed men at his private residence after midnight who shot him dead on July 7. "The president was assassinated at his home by foreigners who spoke English and Spanish," Claude Joseph had informed in a statement at the time and called it a "hateful, inhumane, and barbaric act."

"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 said in a tweet. It was not clear at the moment whether Haiti would seek the suspect's extradition.

Samir Handal
Samir Handal Screen grab - Reuters

Who is the suspect?

The suspect, a businessman, was identified as Sameer Handal. According to Anadolu Agency, Handal was wanted on an Interpol red notice. Court officials, who questioned him in connection with the Haitian president, Moïse's assassination, issued a 40-day temporary custody order as requested by Turkey's justice ministry. He was being held in Istanbul's Maltepe prison.

Other suspects

The Haitian government had offered around $100,000 in rewards for information on the whereabouts of Handal and two other suspects in connection with the president's assassination in August. More than 40 suspects are arrested so far in connection with Moïse's murder. The list includes 18 former Colombian soldiers and several Haitian police officers.

Handal is believed to have links to another suspect, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian doctor who was arrested in July. The then-police chief Leon Charles alleged that Sanon had "political objectives" behind Moïse's assassination. Handal reportedly lived in Miami in the US prior to his arrest. No details about the charges or allegations against Handal were known at the moment. Jovenel Moïse's murder had worsened the political instability in the country. The motive behind his assassination is yet to be established.