Florida-based doctor arrested, accused of playing leading role in assassination of Haiti's president

Léon Charles.
(Image credit: Valerie Baeriswyl/AFP via Getty Images)

Haitian National Police Chief Léon Charles announced on Sunday that 63-year-old Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a doctor based in Florida, is suspected of playing a major role in last week's assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, and has been arrested.

Moïse was shot and killed by gunmen who entered his home early last Wednesday morning. Charles said Sanon flew into Haiti in June and had "political objectives." He alleged that Sanon used a security firm to recruit some of the men involved in the assassination, telling them they would work as his bodyguards.

Haitian authorities say the hit squad that carried out the assassination was comprised of 28 people, with most soldiers from Colombia. So far, Haitian police have arrested 21 people in connection with Moïse's assassination, including two Haitian Americans who allegedly served as translators for the Colombians.

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Police said that upon Moïse's death, Sanon intended to assume the presidency, The Washington Post reports. Under Haiti's constitution, the head of the Supreme Court is the president's successor, but the chief justice recently died of COVID-19 and hasn't been replaced. There are multiple people fighting to be Haiti's leader, including Claude Joseph, the acting prime minister, and neurosurgeon Ariel Henry, who was appointed prime minister by Moïse shortly before his assassination. On Friday, members of Haiti's senate, which is not functioning, voted and made its leader, Joseph Lambert, Haiti's acting president.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.