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Mario Palacios, Main Suspect In Murder Of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, Charged In Federal Court In Miami

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The main suspect in the killing of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse appeared in federal court in Miami on Tuesday.

Mario Antonio Palacios is charged with conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States and providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap.

He was arrested in Jamaica in October and was scheduled to fly to his native Colombia on Monday. However, Interpol notified Palacios during a stopover in Panama that the U.S. government was extraditing him and he agreed to travel to the U.S.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed in court, the charges relate to the July 7, 2021, assassination of Moïse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Palacios and others, including a group of approximately 20 other Colombian citizens and a group of Haiti-based dual Haitian-American citizens, reportedly plotted to kidnap or kill the Haitian President.

The Colombian government has said that the majority of the ex-soldiers were duped and thought they were on a legitimate mission to provide protection and that only a few knew it was a criminal mission.

According to the complaint, while the plot initially focused on conducting a kidnapping of the president as part of a purported arrest operation, it ultimately resulted in a plot to kill him.

On July 7, Palacios and others entered the president's residence in Haiti with the intent and purpose of killing him which they did, according to the complaint.

One of Palacios' co-conspirators, a dual Haitian-American citizen, was subsequently arrested by Haitian authorities and remains in custody in Haiti. Palacios eluded arrest and traveled to Jamaica.

If convicted of the charges, Palacios faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

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