A former US government drug enforrcement agent has been sentenced to life in prison by a Miami court for participating in the assassination of Haiti’s former president Jovenel Moise.
The sentencing comes two months after Haitian-American Joseph Vincent, 58, pleaded guilty to taking part in the plot to assassinate the late president.
Before his sentencing in a Miami court, he told the judge: “Please forgive me for what I did.”
President Moise was shot and killed at his home in Port-au-Prince in 2021.
The trial is being held in Florida because the US justice department ruled that it fell within its jurisdiction – since part of the plot was developed in south Florida.
Vincent, who will be held in a Florida prison, admitted to having discussed the assassination plot and accompanying co-conspirators to Mr Moise’s residence in July 2021.
His role included advising his accomplices on Haitian politics, meeting with local political and community leaders and encouraging protests against Mr Moise as a pretext to overthrow him, according to the AFP.
It is believed that during those meetings, Vincent wore a US State Department pin to make others believe he worked for Washington. But the DEA said Vincent had not been acting on behalf of the agency.
Haiti’s ambassador to the US, Bocchit Edmond, said there was “no way” US drugs agents carried out the attack. Speaking at the time of Mr Moise’s killing, the ambassador said he believed it was the work of “professional mercenaries”.
Court documents show that the operation was originally aimed at kidnapping the late president, but later became a full-fledged assassination.
Also on Friday, another suspect, Frederick Joseph Bergmann Jr. pleaded guilty to submitting false or misleading export information. He has been accused of smuggling ballistic vests as part of the plot.
Colombian ex-soldiers and businessmen are also among those accused of helping supply funds or weapons, and carrying out the attack.
Haiti has arrested 17 people for the murder of the President Moise, according to the Miami Herald, but none of them have been formally charged.
The Caribbean country has not had a president since Mr Moise’s assassination.
Since then, the country has plunged into political chaos and witnessed unprecedented levels of gang violence.
On Friday, the United Nations said January had been the most violent month in the country in more than two years, with some 1,100 people either killed, injured or kidnapped in the month.
Source: BBC News.