Pentagon: Some Colombians Arrested in Moise Assassination Probe Received US Military Training

Some of the Colombian nationals detained by the Haitian National police in connection with the assassination of President Jovenel Moise took part in “U.S. military training and education programs,” a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed in a statement emailed to VOA.  The information came to light during a review of training databases, Lt. Col Ken Hoffman said, without specifying when or where the training took place.  “Our review is ongoing, so we do not have additional details at this time,” Hoffman said. The development was first reported by The Washington Post. According to the Pentagon, the U.S. Defense Department trains thousands of military people from South America, Central America and the Caribbean each year.  Hoffman said the training is focused on “respect for human rights, compliance with the rule of law, and militaries subordinate to democratically elected civilian leadership.”Haitian National Police Chief Leon Charles said police have arrested 18 Colombians in connection with the assassination.  Moise was shot and killed during an attack inside his private residence, located in a wealthy suburb of Port-au Prince, in the pre-dawn hours of July 7. His wife, Martine, who was injured in the attack, is recovering after undergoing surgery at a Miami, Florida, hospital. Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph told reporters he has spoken to Mrs. Moise multiple times and that she is doing well. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, meets with Colombian Vice President and Foreign Minister, Marta Lucia Ramirez, at the US State Department in Washington on May 28, 2021.Colombian government on ‘mercenaries’  
In New York, Colombia’s Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs Marta Lucia Ramirez denounced the involvement of Colombian nationals in the Moise assassination after a United Nations Security Council meeting Tuesday. “Let me say that the Colombian government, but also the judiciary system, is working with the Judiciary and intelligence from other countries in order to help the Haitian state to identify all the responsibilities in this crime — in this major crime,” Ramirez told reporters, adding that her country also is working with the International Criminal Police Organization, Interpol. “And of course, we are helping Interpol in order to have all the information, the track record about the time when they lived in Colombia, all the information about their communications, everything in order to clarify this horrible crime,” Ramirez said. “Everybody who is involved, everybody who was a physical or intellectual actor of this crime must be punished, and must be punished with an extreme and very high capacity of international justice and the Colombian justice and others.” New arrests  
In Port-au-Prince Thursday, Haiti’s national police announced the arrest of two additional suspects in connection with the assassination of President Moise. Police identified them as Haitians Reynaldo Corvington and Gilbert Dragon. Police say they found a cache of weapons at the homes of both suspects that included AR-15 rifles, automatic weapons, pistols and hunting rifles. Three hand grenades were found at Corvington’s residence, a police statement says.  Additionally, national police issued a new arrest warrant for Désir Gordon Phenil. A statement posted on PNH’s official Facebook page says Phenil was responsible for renting cars, coordinating meetings with the “mercenaries” and buying equipment.  On Wednesday, Dimitri Herard, head of security at the national palace, was taken into custody. VOA Creole reporters say Herard was scheduled to appear before a court inquiry in Port-au-Prince earlier Wednesday but failed to do so.  U.S. President Joe Biden meets with his Attorney General Merrick Garland, law enforcement officials, and community leaders to discuss gun violence reduction strategies at the White House in Washington, July 12, 2021.U.S. President Joe Biden has condemned the assassination. The president dispatched a special delegation to Haiti to assist with the investigation. The delegation includes officials from the State Department, Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the National Security Council.   Matiado Vilme in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report