Haiti arrests top security official in slain president probe

July 27, 2021
Jimmy Cherizier, alias Barbecue, a former policeman who heads an alleged gang coalition known as "G9 Family and Allies," leads a march to demand justice for slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in La Saline neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, July 26, 2021. Moïse was assassinated on July 7 at his home. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Authorities in Haiti arrested a top official who served as general security coordinator when President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated, his attorney told The Associated Press on Monday.

Jean Laguel Civil joins more than two dozen suspects arrested by Haiti National Police as the investigation continues into the July 7 attack at Moïse's private home.

Civil's attorney, Reynold Georges, called his client's arrest politically motivated.

It wasn't immediately clear if Civil had been charged with anything.

The arrest comes as more than 1,000 demonstrators gathered around one of Haiti's most notorious alleged gang leaders to commemorate Moïse.

The crowd was mostly dressed in white as they cheered on Jimmy Cherizier, a former police officer who now leads “G9,” a federation of nine alleged gangs that officials have blamed for a spike in violence and kidnappings in recent months.

“Everyone needs to wait on my order before we respond to the killing of Jovenel Moïse,” said Cherizier, who goes by the name of “Barbecue” and whom police say is behind several recent massacres that targeted civilians living in communities run by other gangs.

He was wearing a white suit and black tie as he spoke to the crowd at the seaside slum of La Saline in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

A nearby truck played music as Cherizier knelt down before a large portrait of Moïse and began to light candles.

“No justice, no peace!” he said.

Earlier, the crowd sang as they made a circle around a bonfire and threw salt into it as part of a ceremony to honour Moïse.

Many had their faces covered so as not to be identified.

Moïse was shot several times during a July 7 attack in which his wife was seriously injured.

At least 26 people have been arrested, including 18 former Colombian soldiers.

Police are still looking for various suspects, including a former rebel leader and an ex-Haitian senator.

On Monday, they identified another suspect: Haiti Superior Court Judge Windelle Coq Thelot.

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