U.S. charges political rival in Haitian president’s killing

A person holds a photo of late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
A person holds a photo of late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse during a memorial service in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 20, 2021.
(Matias Delacroix / Associated Press)

A former Haitian senator is facing charges in the United States related to last year’s assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, authorities said.

John Joel Joseph made his initial appearance Monday in federal court in Miami, according to court records. The Haitian citizen was extradited from Jamaica to the U.S. on Friday to face charges of conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States and providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap. He faces a possible life sentence.

According to a criminal complaint, Joseph and others, including about 20 Colombian citizens and several dual Haitian American citizens, participated in a plot to kidnap or kill Haiti’s president, who was ultimately slain at his home on July 7, 2021.


Joseph was arrested in Jamaica in January along with his wife and two sons.

In March, he agreed to be extradited to the U.S. Meanwhile, his family requested asylum in Jamaica, but it wasn’t clear whether the government of the Caribbean island granted it. Joseph’s attorney, Donahue Martin, did not immediately return a message for comment.

According to a report from Haiti’s National Police that the Associated Press obtained last year, at least one person identified Joseph as one of the leaders accused of plotting Moïse’s assassination. The source said Joseph paid cash for rental cars that the suspects used and met with them ahead of the killing.

Joseph is one of more than 40 suspects arrested in the presidential slaying, and the third one to be extradited to the U.S. to face charges as the proceedings in Haiti languish, with at least two judges stepping down from the case.

The other two suspects recently extradited to the U.S. are Haitian Chilean businessman Rodolphe Jaar, who was arrested in the Dominican Republic in January, and Colombian ex-soldier Mario Antonio Palacios, who was arrested in Jamaica in October.

Joseph is a well-known politician and an opponent of the slain president’s Tet Kale party.