Mystery Deepens around suspected mastermind of Haiti presidential assassination plot

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A Haitian man who has been arrested on suspicion of playing a leading role in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse appears to have presented himself as a potential leader of the impoverished Caribbean nation for as long as a decade.

A YouTube video posted in 2011 suggests Christian Sanon can provide “Leadership for Haiti,” and a now-defunct website called “Haiti Lives Matter” lists him among a coalition that’s “chosen to lead” the country. A friend in Florida says he was planning to run for president this year.

Authorities here now say Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, a Haitian man with long-standing ties to Florida, was aiming to assume the country’s presidency. They say he recruited some of the alleged assailants accused of killing Moïse last week through a Venezuelan security firm based in the United States by telling them they would be his bodyguards. Moïse was killed inside his home early on the morning of July 7.

Sanon couldn’t be reached for comment, and it wasn’t clear whether he had an attorney. Haitian authorities haven’t presented evidence against him, and many questions remain about the alleged plot. Chief among them: How a man who filed for bankruptcy in Florida in 2013, listing himself as a church pastor, could be behind what authorities have described as a commando operation in which more than 20 people have now been arrested.

Further complicating the aftermath of the assassination, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed Monday that one of the suspects arrested by Haiti last week was a non-active informant.

Haitians have expressed doubts about their government’s claims — and are wondering aloud whether presidential guards played a role in the assassination. It’s unclear whether the assailants at the palace faced any resistance.

Haitian officials have not said there was a link between the guards and the attack. But Colombian authorities said Monday that a senior figure in Moïse’s security detail took several trips through Bogotá in recent months. Dimitri Hérard, head of security at the presidential palace, traveled through the Colombian capital to Ecuador, Panama and the Dominican Republic between January and late May, they said.

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