A significant development has emerged in the trial of the men charged in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, as a key defendant, retired Colombian Army captain Germán Rivera, is scheduled to plead guilty this week. The change of plea hearing is set for Thursday in Miami federal court. Rivera, considered a leader in the plot to kill President Moïse, is expected to cooperate with prosecutors and potentially testify against the other defendants. Prosecutors allege that Rivera helped recruit a team of approximately 20 private security contractors who carried out the assassination in July 2021.
Initially pleading not guilty after his extradition from Haiti in February, Rivera now faces four charges of conspiring to kidnap or kill President Moïse, which could result in a life sentence. According to the indictment, Rivera led a convoy of vehicles that attacked the president’s residence on the night of the assassination. He also allegedly distributed firearms and equipment to the team earlier that evening. President Moïse was shot 12 times at close range and died instantly.
Legal experts believe that Rivera’s potential cooperation could provide prosecutors with a powerful witness. By offering his testimony, Rivera may seek a reduced sentence, although the final decision rests with the judge. The guilty plea is seen as a significant breakthrough for U.S. prosecutors handling the case.
The trial for the other ten defendants is scheduled for May next year. The accused conspirators, who planned in both Haiti and Florida, allegedly believed they would secure lucrative government contracts once President Moïse was removed from power and a new president was installed. Some of the Colombian contractors were reportedly told that the operation had CIA backing and that all participants would be immune from prosecution.
Since the assassination, Haiti has experienced political instability, with no elected government and widespread gang violence. Human rights groups have criticized the authorities’ response to the security crisis, which has resulted in numerous killings and kidnappings. The Haitian government initially arrested over 40 individuals in connection with the assassination, including 18 former Colombian soldiers. Three other former soldiers died in a shootout with Haitian police, while another was arrested in Jamaica and extradited to Miami.