by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)
A prominent Haitian senator charges that President Michel Martelly is planning to assassinate him and three other senators by withdrawing their security details and then attacking them with hired gunmen, who have allegedly already killed a community activist in August.
In a Sep. 4 press conference, Senator John Joël Joseph of Haiti’s West Department said that Martelly and his wife, Sophia St. Rémy Martelly, held a meeting with Police Chief Godson Orélus in which they demanded that he suspend the security details for several prominent opposition senators and deputies. When Orélus refused, the First Lady became “very angry at him, saying that her husband never asks him for anything, so he better do it, thus she demanded that he withdraw the security” of those parliamentarians, Joseph said, claiming she slammed her hand on the table.
The three other allegedly targeted senators are Senate President Simon Dieuseul Desras, Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles (North), and Sen. Francky Exius (South). Sen. Joseph said several other senators and deputies were also on a “list of people to eliminate, which includes me.”
Police Chief Orélus told Haïti Liberté that Sen. Joseph’s source for his declaration was “very evil” and “fooling him because that is false information.”
“I was never in a meeting like that,” Orélus said. “I never received an order to withdraw the security from any senator or deputy.”
In reply, Sen. Joseph told Haïti Liberté that “I know very well that the Director General of the Police would never take it on himself to admit that he met with the president and the president’s wife and that he was pressured.”
“Perhaps he should have responded to the questions with more diplomacy,” Sen. Joseph said. “But for him to come out and say that there is no truth [in my charge], that leaves me very disappointed with him.” The senator says he thoroughly investigated and confirmed the information before making it public.
Sen. Joseph said that the Martelly regime has a death squad run by a drug dealer known as Sonson Lafamilia, whom former police chief Mario Andrésol arrested in 2005 with more than $3 million in cash in his car. He is assisted by a member of Martelly’s close security detail (Presidential Security Unit or USP), a certain Vladimir, Joseph told Haïti Liberté.
Lafamilia (not his real name) and Vladimir in turn command a group of street assassins, according to Joseph, including two men known as Benedict Salaam and Brutal, both of whom publicly shot and knifed to death community activist Garry Désir at the end of August in the capital’s central Champ de Mars plaza. Désir, who had just come from a conference, was a member of the Cameroun Base popular organization in the capital’s Belair neighborhood.
“They fired on him, then they stabbed him, then they shot him again several times,” Joseph said. “Meanwhile, there was a police car just a few yard away from them. When Brutal finished his crime, the police watched him go. They didn’t even pursue him because they knew that he was an element payed by the National Palace to execute well-known people.”
Asked if he thought Martelly was aware of these alleged crimes and the death squad, Joseph replied that “these are people who are directly connected to the president’s team, who have official dark-windowed SUVs to carry out a number of missions.”
“All indications are that the president’s hand is implicated in all of this,” Sen. Joseph concluded.