Police accuse 51-year-old of planning ‘armed revolution’ to seize power from ex-President Jovenel Moise.
Canadian federal police have charged a man in the province of Quebec with “terrorism” over an alleged plot to overthrow slain Haitian President Jovenel Moise’s government.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said on Thursday that Gerald Nicolas, 51, from the town of Levis near Quebec City “planned to stage an armed revolution in Haiti and ultimately seize power”.
“It is alleged that he took concrete actions, including travelling to Haiti to coordinate a group of individuals whose intention was to take part in a coup against the established authority,” a police statement said.
The police force did not say exactly when the suspect travelled to Haiti or when the alleged plot took place, but it did say its investigation, which began in July 2021, was unrelated to Moise’s assassination that same month.
The Haitian leader was killed on July 7, 2021, by a gang of mercenaries who stormed his home in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The killing sent shockwaves around the world and thrust the Caribbean nation, which was already facing political turmoil, into deeper instability.
More than a year later, Haiti is reeling from surging violence as armed gangs have battled for control of key areas in the political vacuum created by Moise’s assassination.
Meanwhile, Haiti’s investigation into the killing appears to have stalled.
Dozens of people have been arrested in the ongoing inquiry, including several Colombian nationals, but the process has been slow-moving and many questions – and theories – remain as to why Moise was killed.
The United States Department of Justice alleges that a group of about 20 Colombians and a group of Haitian Americans participated in a plot that, while initially focused on kidnapping Moise in a purported arrest operation, “ultimately resulted in a plot to kill the president”.
The US has charged three men in relation to the assassination, accusing them of being members of the plot.
Former Haitian Senator John Joel Joseph was extradited to the US from Jamaica and charged in May. The other men charged are Mario Antonio Palacios, a former member of the Colombian military, and Rodolphe Jaar, a dual Haitian-Chilean citizen.
In a report (PDF) ordered by the US Congress on Moise’s assassination, the Department of State said it “continues to assist Haitian authorities as they proceed with their investigation” into the president’s killing.
“Embassy Port-au-Prince estimates Haitian authorities have detained around 74 suspects during the investigation; approximately 42 remain in pre-trial detention,” said the report, which was released this month.
The State Department said a fifth judge was appointed to head the Haitian investigation in May but “investigative judges assigned to the case and related figures have reported threats to their safety for working on the case”.
“Multiple break-ins at the offices of the investigating judges resulted in tampered evidence, further hampering the investigation,” it added.