GlobalFormer Colombian soldier pleads guilty to conspiring to assassinate Haitian president in...

Former Colombian soldier pleads guilty to conspiring to assassinate Haitian president in 2021

A former Colombian soldier pleaded guilty Thursday to having participated in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, seven months after he was extradited to the United States in a case that prosecutors have described as a conspiracy.

At first German Alejandro Rivera García had pleaded not guilty, but now he changed his mind after having sealed an agreement with the prosecution with a view to obtaining a lighter sentence than the maximum of life imprisonment that would correspond to him if he were found guilty. Through the pact, the Colombian promised to collaborate with the US authorities.

Rivera was one of the first arrested after Moïse was shot 12 times in his private home in Port-au-Prince on July 7, 2021. In South Florida, there are 11 defendants. Only one of them, Rodolphe Jaar, a businessman with dual Haitian and Chilean nationality, has been convicted so far.

This type of collaboration agreement with justice is common, although it does not offer guarantees. Prosecutors could now recommend a lesser sentence, but it is up to the judge to decide.

Rivera is the second to plead guilty, after Jaar, who was sentenced to life in prison despite having admitted his guilt.

The former Colombian soldier would have been the leader of a group of 20 soldiers who, according to the US government, participated in the planned assassination between the Caribbean nation and South Florida. He appeared Thursday for a hearing before federal judge José Martínez and his sentence was set for October 27. In the meantime, he will continue to be held in a federal prison in downtown Miami.

Another of the soldiers, Mario Palacios, is also being held in Miami and faces charges in the same case. His next hearing is on October 25.

In the 30-minute hearing, Rivera admitted to three of the four charges he faced. The prosecution promised to remove the fourth — conspiring to commit crimes against the United States — at sentencing.

According to a three-page document that alludes to the facts of the murder and on which the plea agreement is based, beginning in February 2021 Rivera conspired to provide material support and resources, including his own services, that would be used to prepare and implement the kidnapping and murder of Moïse.

Rivera offered training, advice and assistance in the operation, indicates the document that appears in the online file. In various meetings with other conspirators, held in South Florida (by phone or video) and in Haiti (in person), the methods to be used and the need to acquire weapons were discussed. The Colombian was present at meetings where there was talk of killing the Haitian president, according to the document.

On July 7, Rivera and other of his partners in the conspiracy left in a convoy for the president’s residence, according to the document. The other conspirators entered the house with the purpose of killing Moïse. The events sought to influence and affect the conduct of the Haitian government through intimidation and coercion, and Rivera sought to do that, says the document signed by the Colombian himself, his lawyer Mark Levine and prosecutor Monica Castro.

In the plea agreement he sealed with the prosecution, Rivera agreed to cooperate by providing information and testimony, documents and evidence if requested, whether through interviews, before a grand jury, trials or judicial proceedings. In addition, the authorities may require you, under his supervision, to act as an undercover agent.

Through the 11-page pact, the Colombian also waived his right to appeal the sentence.

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