Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Foreign Minister says threats took place after consul tried to help detained former soldiers.

Colombia says its consul in Haiti has received threats after trying to provide assistance to 18 former Colombian soldiers arrested as part of an investigation into the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise last year.

Foreign Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez said on Tuesday that the threats were directed at Julio Cesar Santa Martinez, who serves as Colombia’s sole representative in Haiti, where Bogota does not have an embassy.

She did not provide further details on the nature of the threats or who made them, but said it took place when the consul tried to provide humanitarian aid to the ex-soldiers who were among the dozens of suspects who were in a extensive investigation into the Moise murdered in July 2021 in his home.

The assassination further threw Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, further political and economic chaos, recently compiled by several natural disaster.

Haitian officials said the killings were carried out by a group that included former Colombian soldiers working for a private security firm.

No arrests have been formally made in Haiti, but U.S. officials said in early January arrested 43-year-old Colombian Mario Antonio Palacios.

He was charged with “conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States” and “providing material support leading to death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or conspire” to kill or kidnap ”.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Palacios and the other intruders initially tried to kidnap Moise, but killed him in the process.

Following the arrest, Claude Joseph, who briefly served as Haiti’s acting president after Moise’s assassination, called on US and Haitian authorities to quickly extradite Palacios to Haiti.

The Colombian government has meanwhile offered to help Haitian authorities investigate the murder, but has complained that the former soldiers were abused in Haitian prisons.

Colombia’s foreign ministry said last year the consul visited the detained ex-soldiers several times to check on their health and also provided them with toiletries and other items sent by their relatives in Colombia.

In August, Foreign Minister Ramirez sent a letter requesting the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the prisoners and document their condition.

She said two of the former soldiers had been tortured and that none had been provided with lawyers.

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