NATIONAL NEWS

Retired Colombian army officer gets life sentence in 2021 assassination of Haiti’s president

Oct 27, 2023, 10:26 AM

MIAMI (AP) — A federal judge in Miami on Friday sentenced a retired Colombian army officer to life in prison for his role in plotting to kill Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, which caused unprecedented turmoil in the Caribbean nation.

Germán Alejandro Rivera García, 45, is the second of 11 suspects detained and charged in Miami to be sentenced in what U.S. prosecutors have described as a conspiracy hatched in both Haiti and Florida to hire mercenaries to kidnap or kill Moïse, who was slain at his private home near the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince on July 7, 2021.

Rivera, also known as “Colonel Mike,” had pleaded guilty in September to conspiring and supporting a plot to kill the Haitian president. According to court documents, he was part of a convoy headed to Moïse’s residence the day of the killing, after he relayed information that the plan was not to kidnap the president but rather kill him.

Rivera had faced up to life imprisonment and hoped to received a lighter sentence after signing a cooperation agreement with U.S. authorities.

Federal Judge José E. Martínez handed down the sentence at a less than 30 minute hearing in Miami.

The sentencing came just months after Haitian-Chilean businessman Rodolphe Jaar was sentenced to life in prison in June for his role in Moïse’s killing. Meanwhile, former Haitian senator John Joel Joseph is set to be sentenced in December. Eight more defendants are waiting trial next year in the United States.

Rivera entered the hearing wearing a prisoner’s beige shirt and pants. He was handcuffed and had shackles on his ankles as he listened to the judge’s ruling seated next to his attorney.

According to the charges, Rivera, Jaar, Joseph and others, including about 20 Colombian citizens and several dual Haitian-American citizens, participated in the plot. The conspirators initially planned to kidnap the Haitian president, and later changed the plan to kill him. Investigators allege the plotters had hoped to win contracts under a successor to Moïse.

Moïse was killed when assailants broke into his home. He was 53 years old.

Meanwhile, more than 40 suspects in the case remain detained in Haiti and have languished in prison more than two years after the assassination as the newest investigative judge continues his interrogations. Among those arrested after the killing are 18 former Colombian soldiers, who are in custody in Haiti.

The case received a boost last week when police arrested Joseph Félix Badio, a key suspect who once worked at Haiti’s Ministry of Justice and at the government’s anti-corruption unit. He was detained in the capital of Port-au-Prince after more than two years on the run.

Since the assassination, Haiti has experienced a surge of gang violence that led the prime minister to request the deployment of an armed force. In early October, the U.N. Security Council voted to send a multinational force led by Kenya to help fight the gangs.

Kenya has not announced a deployment date.

National News

Associated Press

USPS commits to rerouting Reno-area mail despite bipartisan pushback and mail ballot concerns

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The USPS announced on Tuesday it will follow through with its plan to reroute Reno-area mail processing to Sacramento, a move that drew bipartisan ire from Nevada lawmakers while raising questions about the rate at which mail ballots can be processed in a populous part of a crucial swing state. Postmaster […]

38 minutes ago

Associated Press

The Rev. Cecil Williams, who turned San Francisco’s Glide Church into a refuge for many, has died

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Rev. Cecil Williams, who with his late wife turned Glide Church in San Francisco into a world-renowned haven for people suffering from poverty and homelessness and living on the margins, has died. He was 94. Williams and his wife, Janice Marikitami, who passed away in 2021, appeared in Will Smith’s […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Alabama lawmakers advance bill to ensure Biden is on the state’s ballot

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Senate voted Tuesday for legislation meant to ensure President Joe Biden will appear on the state’s November ballot, mirroring accommodations made four years ago for then-President Donald Trump. The issue of Biden’s ballot access has arisen in Alabama and Ohio as Republican secretaries of state warn that certification deadlines […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Transgender Tennessee woman sues over state’s refusal to change the sex designation on her license

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A transgender Tennessee woman sued the state’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security on Tuesday after officials refused to change the sex on her driver’s license to match her gender identity. The lawsuit was filed in Davidson County Chancery Court in Nashville under the pseudonym Jane Doe by the American Civil […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Ex-police officer pleads guilty to punching man in custody about 13 times

BOSTON (AP) — A former Weymouth, Massachusetts, police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to assaulting a man in his custody nearly two years ago by punching him about a dozen times without justification. Justin Chappell, 43, pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, according to federal prosecutors. U.S. District Court […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Douglas DC-4 plane crashes into river outside Fairbanks, Alaska; not clear how many people on board

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A Douglas DC-4 airplane crashed into the Tanana River near Fairbanks on Tuesday, Alaska State Troopers said. It was not immediately known how many people were on board. The website www.airlines.net said standard passenger seating for a DC-4 was 44 during its heyday, but most have been converted to freighters. Troopers […]

6 hours ago

Retired Colombian army officer gets life sentence in 2021 assassination of Haiti’s president