By DÁNICA COTO and ASTRID SUÁREZ
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — U.S. authorities have taken custody of a main suspect in the killing of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, and he is scheduled to appear Tuesday in federal court in Miami.
Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios 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, said Gen. Jorge Luis Vargas, director of Colombia’s police.
He said that Colombia, Jamaica and the U.S. were in touch to coordinate the deportation and extradition of Palacios to the U.S.
Interpol had issued a red alert for Palacios on charges including attempted murder, armed robbery and conspiracy based on a request from the Haitian government.
It wasn’t immediately clear what charges Palacios faced in the U.S. or whether he had an attorney. Marlene Rodríguez, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida, told The Associated Press that Palacios was in U.S. custody and would appear in federal court on Tuesday afternoon. She did not respond to additional questions including what charges he might face.
Meanwhile, the office of Haiti’s prime minister issued a brief statement, saying only that it wanted justice to prevail in the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse at his private residence. The office did not reply to additional questions including whether the government was still seeking to charge Palacios or extradite him to Haiti.
Former Haitian Prime Minister Claude Joseph said the U.S. taking custody of Palacios was in a step in the right direction, but he urged local authorities to work with the U.S. to extradite him so he can face justice in Haiti.
Palacios was one of more than a dozen former Colombian soldiers accused in the slaying of Moïse. 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.
More than 40 suspects have been detained, including 19 former Colombian soldiers. Among them is Palacios, who was a member of Colombia’s military for 20 years.
Associated Press reporter Harold Isaac in Port-au-Prince, Haiti contributed to this report.
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