The United States has accused the former Colombian soldier of assassinating Haitian President Moise

The US government announced on Tuesday that it had arrested one of the main suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and accused him of conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States.

Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios, a 43-year-old former Colombian soldier, was also accused of providing material assistance resulting in the death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap.

He appeared in federal court in Miami on Tuesday afternoon but did not file an appeal. Palacios, who was wearing jeans and a gray T-shirt and had his hands and feet chained, told the judge he wanted to be appointed a lawyer. After answering questions about his income and property, including owning a house in Cali, Colombia, and receiving an Army pension of nearly $ 370, he was granted limited income advice.

The court-appointed lawyer Alfredo Izaguirre told the American judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes that he recommended Palacios to stay in custody because he has no immigration status, relatives or ties to the United States. The judge ordered detention and said he risked escaping.

Palacios is scheduled to appear in court again on January 31. Izaguirre said his client would probably plead not guilty at the preliminary hearing.

Palacios was arrested in Jamaica in October and was scheduled to fly to his native Colombia on Monday. However, Interpol informed Palacios during a stopover in Panama that the US government was about to extradite him, says General Jorge Luis Vargas, head of Colombia’s police.

He said Colombia, Jamaica and the United States were in touch to coordinate the deportation and extradition of Palacios to the United States.

The US Department of Justice said in a press release that Palacios agreed to travel to the United States during his stay in Panama.

Interpol had issued a red warning to Palacios on charges of attempted murder, armed robbery and conspiracy based on a request from the Haitian government.

The Haitian Prime Minister’s Office made a brief statement, saying only that they wanted justice to prevail in the assassination of Moïse on July 7 in his private residence. The office did not respond to further questions, including whether the government was still trying to prosecute Palacios or extradite him to Haiti.

Haiti’s former prime minister Claude Joseph said the United States’ take custody of Palacio’s was a step in the right direction, but urged local authorities to work with the United States to extradite him so he can be brought to justice in Haiti.

Palacios was one of more than a dozen former Colombian soldiers accused of murdering Moïse. The Colombian government has said that the majority of the former soldiers were deceived and believed that they were on a legitimate mission to provide protection and that only a few knew that it was a criminal mission.

More than 40 suspects have been arrested, including 19 former Colombian soldiers. Among them is Palacios, who was a member of the Colombian military for 20 years.

(AP)

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