San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

Prosecutor seeks to interview premier in slaying

- By Evens Sanon and Danica Coto Evens Sanon and Danica Coto are Associated Press writers.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti’s chief public prosecutor asked Prime Minister Ariel Henry to meet with him this week as part of an ongoing investigat­ion into the slaying of President Jovenel Moise, noting that Henry spoke with one of the main suspects in the case just hours after the killing.

The carefully worded invitation noted that Henry had multiple phone calls with fugitive Joseph Felix Badio, who once worked for Haiti’s Ministry of Justice and authoritie­s say had a key role leading up to the July 7 killing of the president at his private home.

Bedford Claude, Port-auPrince’s chief prosecutor, said two of the calls occurred at 4:03 a.m. and 4:20 a.m. on July 7 just hours after the killing. He said evidence shows that Badio was in the vicinity of the president’s home when the calls were made.

Claude told the prime minister that he was requesting a meeting with him to verify the content of those conversati­ons, although he implied it wasn’t mandatory.

“The head of the criminal prosecutio­n would be grateful if you so wish, taking into account the restrictio­ns given your status as a senior state official,” Claude wrote.

He added that the invitation issued to Henry was justified given what he called a “case of extreme gravity for the nation” and a power vacuum that prevented authoritie­s from obtaining prior authorizat­ion from a president to request that Henry appear at the public prosecutor’s office. Chenal Augustin, who works in the prime minister’s communicat­ions office, said the office would not comment on the matter.

Henry previously told a local radio station that he knew Badio and defended him, adding that he didn’t believe Badio was involved because he didn’t have the means.

The invitation sent to Henry comes as authoritie­s seek to arrest additional suspects in the slaying, including Badio. He once worked for Haiti’s Ministry

of Justice and joined the government’s anti-corruption unit in 2013. The agency had issued a statement saying Badio was fired in May following “serious breaches” of unspecifie­d ethical rules.

More than 40 suspects have been arrested, including 18 former Colombian soldiers who recently accused Haitian police of torture. A police spokeswoma­n did not respond to a request for comment.

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