Samir Handal, a businessman wanted in connection to Haitian President Jovenal Moise’s assassination on July 7, has been arrested in Turkey. Detained Monday morning at Istanbul Airport, he is considered a suspect in the murder and has since been placed in custody in an Istanbul prison.
It is unknown at the time how Handal fits into the mysterious attack on President Jovenal Moise, which killed him and injured his wife. It has also not been revealed what Handal’s motive may have been, or if the Haitian government plans on extraditing him back to the Caribbean Island.
According to ABC News, Haitai’s government confirmed the arrest and Foreign Minister Claude Joseph has spoken with a representative in Turkey to aid him in the investigation.
“I just had a phone conversation with the Turkish Chancellor, my friend Mevlut Cavusoglu, to thank Turkey for the arrest of Samir Handal,” Claude Joseph wrote on Twitter.
The Haitian Foreign Minister called Samir Handal, “one of the people of great interest in the investigation into the assassination of the president.”
Handal was arrested immediately upon arrival at Istanbul Airport, ABC News reported, and questioned by authorities. Issued a 40-day temporary custody order, Handal now awaits further questioning in Istanbul’s Maltepe prison.
Over 40 suspects have been detained and questioned so far in the plot to assassinate Haitian President Jovenal Moise.
According to BBC News, a group of Colombian mercenaries were behind the assassination, with Colombian officials saying that their soldiers did not know the true nature of the operation. 18 Colombian soldiers and nearly a dozen Haitian police officers have been interrogated so far.
Early in the morning on July 7, the team shot and killed Haitian President Jovenal Moise, 53, at his home in the hills above Port au Prince. He was shot 12 times and found dead on his back, covered in blood. His wife, Martine Moise, was also hit, but survived.
Businessman Samir Handal likely has additional answers. A 63-year-old doctor in Florida, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, is also alleged to be one of the potential suspects. Police Chief Leon Charles said that, “The initial mission that was given to these assailants was to protect the individual named Emmanuel Sanon, but afterwards the mission changed.”
Samir Handal, BBC News reported, is suspected of having ties to Christian Emmanuel Sanon, and was living in Florida as well before taking a mysterious trip to Istanbul.
Police Chief Charles confirmed that most of the suspects involved in the physical operation were arrested within the next 24 hours, including a group of 11 assailants that fled to Taiwan.
“We blocked [the suspects] en route as they left the scene of the crime,” he told reporters. “Since then, we have been battling them.”
Now four months later, the investigation is still ongoing. Some investigators have even reported receiving death threats. Meanwhile, none of the suspects arrested so far have been charged with the murder.
According to ABC News, unrest in Haiti has made the investigation more difficult, as well as a spike in crime that could create other possible motives for Jovenal Moise’s death.
The country is still trying to recover from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit in August and killed over 2,200 people. Tropical Storm Grace followed just two later, with the two natural tragedies leaving 30,000 homes destroyed and hundreds of people still reported missing.