US citizens arrested in Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination say they were just translators for hit squad, judge says

James Solages sits on the floor alongside five other suspects in the killing of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse.
James Solages, left, is a Haitian American who is a suspect in the killing of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Joseph Odelyn/AP Photo
  • Two US citizens arrested in the killing of Haiti’s president said they were working as translators.
  • One of the Americans said he found an online job listing to serve as a translator.
  • At least 15 people have been detained in connection with the assassination.
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Two Americans arrested in connection with the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse said they served only as translators for the hit squad and weren’t in the room when the killing took place, Haitian Judge Clément Noël said on Friday, according to The New York Times.

The two US citizens have been identified as James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55. Both are from Florida. Solages said he found a job listing online to translate for the hit squad.

The motive for the assassination, which has left experts “dumbfounded,” remains unclear. Haitian police said the killing was carried out by 26 Colombian and two Haitian American mercenaries, Reuters reported. Law-enforcement and intelligence agencies in both Colombia and the US are investigating links to the killing in light of the arrests of nationals from their countries.

“The United States remains engaged and in close consultations with our Haitian and international partners to support the Haitian people in the aftermath of the assassination of the president,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing on Friday.

-CSPAN (@cspan) July 9, 2021

Moïse was killed in his private residence early on Wednesday. His assassination came amid escalating political turmoil and violence in Haiti, which is considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Haitian authorities said the assailants posed as US Drug Enforcement Agency agents before entering Moïse’s home. Noël, who is investigating the assassination, said Solages at the start of the attack on the president’s home said via a loudspeaker that they were with the DEA, The Times reported. The Americans said the operation was planned for at least a month, Noël said, and that the goal was not to kill Moïse but to take him.

Fifteen suspects have been detained, and four were killed in a firefight with police.