BY AGENCY REPORTER
A U.S.-based evangelical pastor has been arrested by Haitian police as one of the suspects for the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse.
Haitian Police on Monday claims that Pastor Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haiti-born 62-year-old who has been living in Florida for more than two decades, helped recruit the group of some two dozen people who killed President Moise on July 7.
The gunmen fatally shot President Moïse, an embattled leader mired in corruption scandals, and wounded his wife, but left without injuring any members of the presidential guard—raising suspicion about why they faced so little resistance.
Sanon had publicly expressed a desire for political leadership in Haiti and railed against the corruption of the ruling class there. But his associates told the Associated Press he had no intention of killing the President. Here’s what to know about Sanon and the situation in Haiti.
Sanon identifies himself on social media as “a Medical Doctor and Christian Minister who is providing Leadership for Haiti through a life of positive action and absolute integrity.” Born in 1958 in Marigot, a town on Haiti’s southern coast, Sanon studied at university in the Dominican Republic and at the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, according to the Florida Baptist Historical Society.
Living on and off in Florida from at least the early 2000s, Sanon worked on church-related humanitarian projects and served as president of Organisation Rome Haiti, which local news reports in Tampa identified as a local non-profit that helped to send supplies to Haiti after the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake.
After the earthquake, which killed hundreds of thousands of people and levelled large areas of Haiti, Sanon appears to have mounted the beginnings of a quasi-political campaign. In 2011, he posted several YouTube videos in which he criticized Haiti’s government for corruption in the use of relief funds and other failures of leadership in rebuilding the country. “If you talk to young people about hope, they laugh at you,” he says in one clip. “I will bring hope to them.”
Sanon stopped updating his Twitter and YouTube pages in 2011 and over the next few years faced financial difficulties in Florida. Per the Miami Herald, he filed for bankruptcy in Tampa in 2013 and has had more than a dozen businesses registered in the state, most of which are now inactive.
On Saturday, Haiti’s police chief Léon Charles said that he believed a “high-profile doctor” had hired a Miami-based security firm, which had, in turn, hired a group made up mostly of Colombian former soldiers to carry out the operation. On Sunday, Charles identified Sanon by name and said he had arrived in Haiti in June with “political motivations,” travelling on a private jet with several of the alleged perpetrators of the shooting.
Charles said a Colombian suspect had told police that the group’s initial mission was to protect Sanon during his time in Haiti, but that at some point the plan shifted to arresting Moïse. He did not specify when the plan shifted to killing the President.
The police chief said his officers had raided Sanon’s home in Port-au-Prince and found materials including 20 boxes of bullets, gun holsters, four Dominican Republic license plates, and correspondence with unidentified people involved in the operation, as well as a hat bearing the logo of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). (The perpetrators of the attack on Moïse falsely identified themselves as DEA agents, per videos of the incident, and the DEA said Monday that one of its former informants had been arrested during the investigation, though the agency itself was not involved.)
A Florida-based friend of Sanon told AP that the pastor had been duped by people “claiming to represent the U.S. State and Justice departments who wanted to install him as President.” Sanon had believed the plan was to arrest, but not kill Moïse, the friend claimed.
Source: Microsoft News