An ex-soldier recruited to join the group of Colombian soldiers accused of assassinating Haiti’s president, says the group were contracted to provide security to protect the president – not kill him.
Matias Gutierrez, a retired special forces sniper, would have traveled to Haiti with the group last month but tested positive for COVID-19 instead.
He claims that his friends and colleagues had been ‘set up’ in a ‘conspiracy’.
‘If I had traveled, I would possibly be involved in the same thing that the commandos there are, unfortunately,’ Gutierrez told Reuters Monday.
Gutierrez, who now works as a security guard, insists the men were not involved in President Moise’s killing because they are honorable and also well-trained in how to assault a target and then pull back if that had been their actual mission.
Matias Gutierrez, (pictured) a retired special forces sniper, would have traveled to Haiti with the group of Colombian soldiers last month but tested positive for COVID-19 instead.
Colombian ex-soldiers, accused of involvement in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, stand in a courtyard in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
‘It wasn’t our commandos. There has to have been a conspiracy,’ said Gutierrez.
‘Their extraction was total chaos. Why? Because they weren’t going on an assault, they went in support of a request by the security forces of the president.’
President Jovenel Moise was shot dead last Wednesday at his Port-au-Prince home by what Haitian authorities say was a unit of assassins made up of 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans, plunging the troubled Caribbean nation into deeper turmoil.
Photos and X-ray images posted on social media, said to be from Moise’s autopsy, showed his body riddled with bullet holes, a fractured skull and other broken bones, underscoring the brutal nature of the attack.
James A. Solages, 35, and Vincent Joseph, 56, both from South Florida, insisted that their plan was not to assassinate Moise.
‘They probably were watching and waiting for the opportunity for them to do it,’ said Investigative Judge Clément Noël, who was among the first to question the two Haitian-Americans among the 19 suspects detained so far.
President Jovenel Moise (pictured) was shot dead last Wednesday at his Port-au-Prince home by what Haitian authorities say was a unit of assassins made up of 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans, plunging the troubled Caribbean nation into deeper turmoil.
Police lined up the suspects behind a table displaying an array of firearms, machetes, sledgehammers and several Colombian passports
Suspects in the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise are shown to the media in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Thursday
Their mission, Noël and another person who debriefed the men said they were told, was to ‘arrest the president (at his home) and go to the presidential palace with him.’
The Miami Herald reported the detained Colombians said they were hired to work in Haiti by Miami-based company CTU Security, run by Venezuelan Antonio Enmanuel Intriago Valera.
Neither CTU nor Intriago could be reached for comment.
One phone number associated with the company in public records sent calls to an answering machine that made a reference to the fictional TV character Jack Bauer, who fought terrorism in the series ’24.’
According to a WhatsApp conversation, the men were expected to earn $2,700 a month protecting Moise, working along Haitian authorities, Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez spent 21 years in the army, 14 of them in special forces, before retiring in 2015.
Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, who was arrested in Haiti over the weekend, had campaigned to replace slain President Jovenel Moise weeks before the Haitian leader’s assassination, DailyMail.com can reveal
He told Reuters that he chatted with a few of the men when they first arrived in Haiti. They informed him things were going well and they were staying in a house close to the presidential palace.
In addition, a Florida doctor was arrested last week over the assassination, campaigning to replace the slain leader and claiming to have the backing of a key UN figure, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian who has lived in the US since the late 70s, is suspected of being ‘one of the leaders’ behind the brazen shooting of Moise and the attempted killing of his wife Martine last week.
Haitian police say he entered the strife-plagued country last month on a private jet ‘with the intention of taking the Haitian Presidency’ although they are yet to back their accusations with hard evidence.
Via social media, Haitians in parts of the capital Port-au-Prince were planning protests this week against the interim prime minister and acting head of state Claude Joseph.
Joseph’s right to lead the country has been challenged by other senior politicians, threatening to exacerbate the turmoil engulfing the poorest country in the Americas.