James Solages and Joseph Vincent accused of killing Jovenel Moïse were ‘hired as translators’
A judge said Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55, were hired as translators to take Haitian President Moïse into custody and not assassinate him
A Haitian judge investigating the assassination of the Haitian President has claimed that the two US commandos who allegedly killed Jovenel Moïse were not actually hired to assassinate him, but to arrest him. Magistrate Clement Noel said on Friday, July 9, that the 35-year-old James Solages and Joseph Vincent, 55, were hired translators to take Moïse into custody.
The two alleged perpetrators were reportedly interviewed by Noel, to whom they told that they were not in the room when he was murdered and they were employed as translators for the hit squad. Judge Noel refused to further elaborate on the incident or a possible motive but said that the two Americans told him the plotting against Moïse had been planned intensively for a month. For the planning, Solages and Vincent reportedly used to meet other members of the hit squad at an upscale hotel in Pétionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince. They also insisted that they had been told the plan was to arrest the president and bring him to the national palace, not to kill him.
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Besides, about the mastermind, Vincent reportedly told the judge a foreigner named “Mike” was handling everything. He also claimed that the person used to speak Spanish and English. On the other hand, Solages said that he found out about the hiring on the internet. The duo refused to disclose their salary. Judge Noel added that Solages had “replied in a very evasive manner.”
Moïse was killed on July 7 by a group of armed men. The overnight attack also left his wife, Martine Moïse, gravely injured, who later died in a hospital. Interim prime minister Claude Joseph called the attack a “hateful, inhumane and barbaric act.” He was also quoted as saying, “Around one o’clock in the morning, during the night of Tuesday 6th to Wednesday 7th of July 2021, a group of unidentified individuals, including some speaking Spanish, attacked the private residence of the president and fatally injured the head of state.” He added that the country’s “security situation is under the control of the National Police of Haiti and the Armed Forces of Haiti. Democracy and the republic will win.”
According to reports, on Thursday, July 8, a day after the tragedy, along with 15 Colombian nationals, Solages and Vincent were also detained by Haitian police. Solages is a US citizen of Haitian ancestry, who describes himself as a “certified diplomatic agent.” He also reportedly calls himself a budding politician on a website for a charity he launched two years ago in South Florida.
His LinkedIn profile says he is an “experienced building engineer specialize in infrastructure, Equipment, HAVC, Painting with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry.” It also added that Solages is well experienced in “customer service, strategic planning, budgeting, team building, leadership, public speaking, and training. Strong operations professional with a Associate's degree focused in IT from FCC College. Believing in Humanity which leads me to be the President of Non-Profit FWA SA A JACMEL AVAN Jacmelfirst.org helping folks in many different directions along with a strong, dedicated Team.”
Meanwhile, the US State Department said they know about the arrest of Haitian-Americans in Haiti after the assassination of the president, but did not comment further on that. Haitian police chief Léon Charles said, “Foreigners came to our country to kill the president. We are going to bring them to justice.”
It has also been reported that the alleged killers -- Solages and Vincent -- were staying in a home associated with Moïse's ally Magalie Habitant. But she has denied any connections with the alleged perpetrators. “I have nothing to do with this house that I left for three months. I had hired it from a lawyer,” Habitant added.