MIAMI — A Miami federal choose has issued a gag order within the assassination case of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, barring protection attorneys from disclosing any proof to exterior events based mostly on “security considerations” about witnesses concerned within the high-profile case in addition to legislation enforcement personnel, U.S. residents stationed overseas and their family members.
The protecting order bars protection attorneys from sharing “restricted materials” with anybody aside from their shoppers, their authorized employees and their consultants. Specifically, the order prohibits them from sharing proof with “any international non-U.S. attorneys or international people,” together with family members of the defendants or their attorneys overseas.
The order might pose challenges for an ongoing assassination investigation in Haiti, the place an investigative choose remains to be attempting to find out who killed the president and why.
The 11 defendants charged within the assassination conspiracy case are largely from Haiti and Colombia, with a couple of from South Florida. A trial date is ready for Could 8 in Miami federal court docket, although one defendant, convicted Haitian drug trafficker Rodolfe Jaar, has indicated he plans to chop a plea deal, court docket information present. His lawyer couldn’t be instantly reached for remark.
The protecting order, granted Wednesday by U.S. District Decide Jose Martinez, was sought by prosecutors with the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace in a joint request with the protection attorneys representing the defendants. An indictment accuses the defendants of both conspiring to kidnap and kill Haiti’s president or smuggling bulletproof vests to a Colombian mercenary group that murdered Moïse in his residence on July 7, 2021. The homicide conspiracy fees carry as much as life in jail and the smuggling offenses as much as 5 years.
Thus far, the choose has signed off on protecting orders involving eight of the 11 protection attorneys concerned within the extremely delicate case, court docket information present. Prosecutors approached every protection legal professional concerning the gag order on a person foundation.
In federal court docket, protecting orders are commonplace in circumstances involving nationwide safety, violent crimes and drug trafficking. However the order within the Haiti assassination case is extra restrictive than ordinary as a result of it requires protection attorneys to return or destroy witnesses’ statements shared by federal prosecutors on the finish of trial or any appeals.
“They sought the protecting order to guard the bodily integrity of their witnesses,” mentioned Henry Bell, a Miami legal professional for one of many 11 defendants and who can also be a consultant for a bunch of 175 non-public attorneys commonly assigned to felony circumstances involving individuals who can’t afford to pay for authorized illustration.
“The underside line is, they don’t wish to have to clarify why one thing occurred to a witness who testified on this case,” Bell mentioned.
Kenneth Swartz, a Miami legal professional representing one other defendant within the Haiti assassination case, agreed along with his colleague.
“Protecting orders limiting proof have develop into all too frequent in our world of on the spot web dissemination via social media,” Swartz mentioned. “It’s a technique of stopping the details about a witness from falling into the arms of somebody with unhealthy intent.”
The U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace in Miami declined to remark.
The protecting order applies to guide defendant Antonio “Tony” Intriago, the proprietor of a Miami-area safety agency, Counter Terrorist Unit Safety, and the opposite defendants implicated within the plot to kill Haiti’s president.
Intriago was arrested final month in South Florida together with three different defendants, together with Arcángel Pretel Ortiz, operator of the affiliate CTU Federal Academy LLC, and Walter Veintemilla, head of Miramar-based Worldwide Capital Lending Group. All three have been charged with supporting a conspiracy to kidnap and kill the president of Haiti.
One other defendant, Frederick Bergmann Jr., was additionally arrested final month and launched on bail. He’s charged with conspiring to smuggle ballistic vests to former Colombian troopers who allegedly carried out the deadly taking pictures of Moïse and significantly wounded the president’s spouse, Martine Moïse. He’s additionally charged with failing to file legitimate export paperwork in reference to 20 bulletproof vests that have been smuggled into Haiti previous to the assassination. The vests have been shipped on June 10, 2021, from Miami to Port-au-Prince and marked as “medical X-ray vests and college provides.”
The boys have been arrested two weeks after the U.S. authorities introduced 4 different defendants to South Florida from Port-au-Prince, the place they’d been imprisoned however not but charged.
In late January, Investigative Decide Walther Wesser Voltaire in Haiti reluctantly agreed to permit america to switch the group of Haitian-American and Colombian suspects from Port-au-Prince to Miami to face federal conspiracy fees in reference to the assassination. In line with a supply aware of the Haitian investigation, Voltaire did so hoping he would even have entry to the defendants or any new ones to assist him in his ongoing probe.
However, due to the brand new protecting order, that won’t occur.
The order is the newest growth within the case, which has been partly shrouded in secrecy. Final 12 months, Miami federal prosecutors requested a choose to guard labeled proof within the case to seal off delicate data — presumably about a number of the defendants’ previous actions. When authorities arrested Ortiz final month, they acknowledged that he had been an FBI informant on the time of the assassination. The Miami Herald was the first to report the identity of the informant and his connection to the FBI.
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