Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry addresses evidence in slaying

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry is under pressure over calls with a key assassination suspect.
Camera IconHaitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry is under pressure over calls with a key assassination suspect. Credit: EPA

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has issued hsi first public statement about alleged phone calls between him and a key suspect in the presidential assassination, saying he received countless calls from people concerned for his safety following the slaying.

His office said in a statement it was unable to identify all those who called him or determine the nature of the conversations, noting that Henry could not take all the calls.

“After an act of such gravity, many people naturally wanted to inquire about his situation,” the office said on Thursday, referring to the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

Former Port-au-Prince chief prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude, whom Henry dismissed this week, invited the prime minister to meet him to talk about two calls between him and Joseph Badio that took place just hours after Moise was killed.

Badio once worked for Haiti’s justice ministry and at the government’s anti-corruption unit until he was fired in May amid accusations of violating unspecified ethical rules.

Police say they are looking for him on charges including murder.

Claude said evidence showed Badio was in the vicinity of Moise’s home when the calls were made, and on Tuesday, just hours before he was fired, Claude asked the judge in the case to charge Henry.

The prime minister’s office said political interests did not allow anyone to make “serious and baseless innuendos, much less to attempt to hand someone over to popular retribution”.

“Conversations with individuals against whom charges are laid cannot, in any case, be used to incriminate anyone,” it said.

The office also said Henry was doing his utmost to identify all those involved and bring them to justice.

Moise had selected Henry as prime minister shortly before he was killed, and he assumed the position a couple weeks after the assassination.

Henry’s office issued the statement hours after Haiti’s new justice minister pledged to find those responsible for high-profile killings as he spoke publicly for the first time since taking over from his predecessor, whom Henry also fired this week.

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