The widow of assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has recalled the terrifying moment her husband was shot dead next to her as she claims she only survived because the killers thought she was already dead.
‘When they left, they thought I was dead,’ Martine Moïse, 47, told the New York Times.
President Moïse and First Lady Martine were asleep in their bed in their home on the hills of Port-au-Prince on July 7 when deafening gunshots rung out and woke them up in a state of panic.
Martine ran to wake up her two adult children instructing them to hide in the bathroom – the only room with no windows – with the family dog.
President Moïse called his head of security and told his wife to lie down on the floor ‘That’s where I think you will be safe,’ she remembers him saying. It turned out to be the last thing he would say to his wife of 25 years.
Moments later the group of assassins broke into the presidential bedroom and opened fire. Gun shots hit Martine first, in the hand and the elbow, as she lay on the floor as instructed.
Her elbow was shattered by a gunshot and her mouth filled with blood was she lay on the floor as the group of assassins charged into her bedroom.
‘The only thing that I saw before they killed him were their boots. Then I closed my eyes, and I didn’t see anything else.’
She heard as the men searched the room and her husband’s files until they found what they were looking for. What that was she in still unsure of.
Martine Moïse, 47, (right) was laying on the floor of her bedroom as her husband Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, 47, was shot dead next to her. Her daughter Jomarlie Moise (right) was also home at the time of the attack.
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, left, and Haitian First Lady Martine Moïse are seen at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on May 23, 2018
Suspects in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, who was shot dead at his home, are pictured
Suspects in the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse are moved to be displayed to the media at police headquarters in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Haitian authorities have implicated at least 20 retired Colombian soldiers in the president’s assassination on July 7
She stayed motionless and listened as they tore the room apart clearly searching for something in particular. ‘That’s not it. That’s not it,’ she recalled them saying in Spanish, over and over and talking on the phone as they foraged through the president’s files until, ‘That’s it.’
‘They were looking for something in the room, and they found it.’ But Martine doesn’t know what the hunt was for.
The men filled out of the murder scene as one stepped on her foot and another waved a flashlight in her eyes, presumably checking to see if she was still alive.
‘At this moment, I felt that I was suffocating because there was blood in my mouth and I couldn’t breathe,’ she said. ‘In my mind, everybody was dead, because if the president could die, everybody else could have died too.’
Thankfully her children survived the attack.
No guards were killed or wounded during the invasion – something that has sparked suspicion and led to the arrests of the security officials her husband had called that night.
One of the homes searched belongs to Walter Veintemilla – president of Worldwide Capital Lending Group
A spokesperson for the FBI said the affidavits in support of the search warrants have been sealed under a court order
Although the former First Lady was terrified in the moment, she wants her husband’s killers to know she’s not afraid of them. ‘I would like people who did this to be caught, otherwise they will kill every single president who takes power,’ she said. ‘They did it once. They will do it again.’
Martine has admitted that she is seriously considering entering a bid for the presidency, once she has recovered. ‘President Jovenel had a vision,’ she said, ‘and we Haitians are not going to let that die.’
Martine has already undergone two surgeries, and doctors now plan to implant nerves from her feet in her arm. She was warned she may never regain use of her right arm and can move only two fingers. The Moïse family was relocated to South Florida immediately following the assassination.
Haitian police have detained a group of people in connection with the killing, including 18 Colombians and several Haitians and Haitian Americans, and continue to search for others. While Martine is grateful that some people have already been detained she believes there is a lot more work to be done.
She wants wants international law enforcement agencies like the FBI to track the money that financed the killing. She expects the money will lead back to wealthy Haitian oligarchs whose livelihoods were disrupted by her husband’s politics.
The former First Lady was shot and seriously injured before her husband was fatally shot
Two of the president’s adult children including Jomarlie Moise (right) were home at the time of the assassination but survived the attack along with their dog
The president’s funeral was held in Cap-Haitien a few days after the attack
Martine is asking for the help on international law enforcement agencies such as the FBI to help answer, Who ordered and paid for the assassination of her husband?
The Moïse family has been relocated to South Florida since the deadly attack on their family
Presidential honor guards carry the coffin of late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who was shot dead earlier this month, during the funeral at his family home in Cap-Haitien
She specifically points to Reginald Boulos, a powerful Haitian businessman. According to Martine, Boulos’ bank accounts were frozen before the assassination and were released to him immediately after.
Boulos has already claimed his innocence saying ‘I had absolutely, absolutely, absolutely nothing to do with his murder, even in dreams. I support a strong, independent international investigation to find who came up with the idea, who financed it and who executed it.’
Federal agents raided five South Florida locations on Tuesday while serving warrants in an investigation into the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
The search warrants included the homes and offices of Antonio Intriago and Walter Veintemilla – two businessmen whom officials in Haiti suspect funded and trained those who have been implicated in the assassination, the Miami Herald reported.
Helicopter footage from WPLG shows FBI agents and investigators with Homeland Security searching for financial records and other documents at the home of Veintemilla – president of Worldwide Capital Lending Group.
Federal agents raided five South Florida locations on Tuesday while serving warrants in an investigation into the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse
Helicopter footage from WPLG shows FBI agents and investigators with Homeland Security searching for financial records and other documents
Agents with Homeland Security Investigations were also present during the raid
Investigators hope to determine if Intriago and Veintemilla played roles in the July 7 assassination, or committed other crimes. Haitian authorities had tied them to South Florida doctor Christian Emmanuel Sanon’s alleged plot to become president.
Haitian authorities have alleged that Intriago, head of the firm CTU Security in Doral, trained a group of Colombians implicated in the assassination – while Veintemilla’s Capital Lending Group is alleged to have funded their training.
Sources told the Miami Herald that US officials have not yet found evidence that the businessmen know of a plot to kill President Moïse.
A spokesperson for the FBI told WPLG that the affidavits in support of the search warrants have been sealed under a court order and he was prohibited on commenting further about the investigations.
Veintemilla, an Ecuadorian immigrant, was not seen at his home during the raid, WTVJ noted.
Walter Veintemilla, the president of Worldwide Capital Lending Group, is pictured
Attorneys for Intriago, a Venezuelan immigrant, told the outlet he has been cooperating with officials since Moïse was killed – and so they were shocked that federal agents raided his home.
The businessman had reportedly already turned over his cellphone and computer to agents with Homeland Security Investigations.
‘We’re doing everything we can to show our client has nothing to do with this. Our client is not hiding. He’s trying to clear his name,’ attorney Gilberto Lacayo said.
Joseph Tesmond, an attorney working with Lacayo, told the Miami Herald his client secured two loans from Veintemilla’s company, one for general operation expenses.
The other $172,000 loan was to provide security for Sanon in his quest to become Haiti’s next president through a peaceful transition of power, Tesmond said. He said CTU Security hoped to land more ‘security opportunities’ in Haiti.
Veintemilla’s attorney Robert Nicholson told the Miami Herald that his client’s company simply brokered a loan for CTU Security.
Nicholson also said his client raised less than $200,000 from private lenders to allegedly create renewable energy in Haiti if Sanon, who was arrested in Haiti after President Moïse’s death, were to become president.
Concerns have been growing in Haiti that authorities are trying to influence the results of investigative efforts, as noted by the Miami Herald.
People take part in a day of protests going on at the same time as Haitians pay tribute to assassinated president Jovenel Moïse, in Cap-Haitien, on July 22
Security footage shows the security response in the moments after the Haitian president was killed
Judges and court clerks have said they have received ‘serious death threats’ by phone pressuring them to change document related to the investigation – two of whom have filed formal complaints, the Miami Herald reported.
Esperance, executive director of National Human Rights Defense Network, told the outlet the country’s justice minister ‘has not done anything to help them.’
Clerks have allegedly been asked to remove the names of people from court documents and replace them with President Moïse’s political opponents, as well as tamper with witness statements.
Esperance accused the country’s police of possibly violating Haitian law by not turning the case over to an investigative judge.
Meanwhile, cops have arrested Haiti National Police Divisional Commissioner Jean Laguel Civil – President Moïse’s security coordinator – and released a wanted poster for a member of the country’s highest court.
Superior Court Justice Windelle Coq Thélot has been accused assassination, attempted assassination and armed robbery, the Miami Herald reported.