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Haitian Police Hold President's Palace Security Chief In Assassination Investigation

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

One of many unanswered questions about the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moise is how his killers were able to enter his heavily guarded home so easily. None of his security detail was injured in the attack, and there's no evidence they resisted the invaders. Last night, the head of Haiti's national police said the former chief of Moise's security detail has been placed in isolated detention and will be further questioned about his actions the night of the president's assassination. NPR's Jason Beaubien is in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince and joins us now. Morning, Jason.

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: Good morning.

PFEIFFER: Tell us what you've learned about the direction that this investigation is heading.

BEAUBIEN: So the investigation at this point really is going for that bigger picture. It's expanding beyond just the two dozen Colombian mercenaries who were at the scene the night President Moise was killed. It's trying to look at who hired them, who let them into the presidential palace. And even if, indeed, it was the Colombians who were the first ones there, some of the Colombians have claimed the president was already dead when they stormed his private residence.

At that press conference you mentioned last night, Leon Charles, the director of the Haitian National Police - he said that Dimitri Herard has essentially been arrested. It's because, essentially, Moise was killed in this attack, yet none of his security guards were wounded, as you mentioned. And it's not even clear that any of them fired their weapons. And there are new reports that have come out that Herard had visited Bogota six times this year, which is quite a bit. The Colombian defense minister has also weighed in. He said that some of the men that were - have been under arrest - that are under arrest here now knew of the plan to kill Moise. But he said many of them were actually duped into thinking they were there to detain him.

PFEIFFER: You mentioned those Colombian mercenaries, these former military veterans now working as mercenaries who look like they invaded the house. Also, some several Haitian Americans involved in that. They may have been kind of the worker bees, but what about the masterminds behind this?

BEAUBIEN: You know, Haitian investigators are saying very little. They have put out some extra arrest warrants. There's a lot of stuff circulating on social media. Some of it's showing some of the people who are detained at the moment and some Haitians who are wanted on some of these new arrest warrants meeting in the Dominican Republic. There was one report on a Colombian radio network that said the acting prime minister, Claude Joseph, was tied to Moise's killing. Police last night here vigorously denied that he's a suspect. The Washington Post has come out with a report saying that Christian Emmanuel Sanon - he's one of the Haitian Americans who is alleged to have hired the mercenaries - he sought funding for a project earlier this year that included hiring mercenaries and, quote, "turning Haiti into a free and open society." So far, all the Haitian officials will say is that Sanon is under arrest because some of the suspects called him the night of the attack.

PFEIFFER: Jason, so few clear details. Meanwhile, we have political leaders challenging the prime minister's legitimacy. It makes me wonder, what's the state of mind of Haiti? What's life like in Haiti now?

BEAUBIEN: You know, the big issue right now is security. That's what I'm hearing from everyone. I talked to Anderson Laferriere (ph). He runs a business. He markets locally grown beans, rice and some specialty oils that he produces here in Haiti. But he says at times, he can't even get his raw materials in - from the countryside into Port-au-Prince. And the big issue is just for ordinary people - that if he and himself aren't safe, if the president isn't safe and could be killed inside his home, he told me ordinary Haitians have no one to call. He said there's no justice, and it's absolutely impossible to do business in Haiti right now.

PFEIFFER: That's NPR's Jason Beaubien in Port-Au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. Jason, thank you.

BEAUBIEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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