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Wife of slain Haitian president: 'When they left, they thought I was dead'

In a New York Times interview, Martine Moïse recalled the terrifying moments that ended in her husband's assassination.
Martine Moise grieves during the funeral for her husband, slain Haitian President Jovenel Moise, on July 23, 2021, in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.
Martine Moïse grieves during the funeral for her husband, slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, on July 23, 2021, in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.Valeria Baeriswyl / AFP - Getty Images

The wife of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse said the men who murdered her husband also believed they'd killed her in the assassination that has rocked the Caribbean nation's already shaky democracy.

In an interview with The New York Times that was posted on the newspaper's website Friday, Martine Moïse recounted the terrifying moments July 7 when gunmen burst into their home, shot her and then killed the president before rifling through her husband's files looking for something.

“The only thing that I saw before they killed him were their boots,” Martine Moïse said, describing the moment her husband was gunned down next to her. “Then I closed my eyes, and I didn’t see anything else.”

After firing the fatal shots, attackers ransacked the room and looked through the president's files, all while speaking Spanish — and not the island's dominant languages of French and Haitian Creole — Martine Moïse said.

"'That’s not it. That’s not it,'" she recalled them saying before one finally declared: "'That's it.'"

She doesn't know what they were seeking or found.

“They were looking for something in the room, and they found it," she said.

The gunmen left the room.

“When they left, they thought I was dead," Martine Moïse told the newspaper in an interview in South Florida, where she's recovering from her wounds.

Before the group of "highly trained and heavily armed" people reached them, the couple was jarred awake by gunshots outside their home, prompting Jovenel Moïse to pick up a phone and call for help.

"He said, 'I found Dimitri Hérard; I found Jean Laguel Civil,'" she said, naming two officials in the president's security operation. "And they told me that they are coming."

Both Hérard and Civil have been detained in the ongoing probe that's so far implicated Colombian mercenaries in the president's slaying.

Martine Moïse said she still can't grasp how people got past 30 to 50 security personnel stationed at the president's home. None of them were killed or wounded in the attack.

“I don’t understand how nobody was shot,” she said.

Haiti's President Jovenel Moise addresses the media in Port-au-Prince
Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse addresses the media in Port-au-Prince in 2019.Andres Martinez Casares / Reuters file

And foremost on her mind, she said she wants all those responsible to be brought to justice. She believes Haitian elites are those who could've organized such a brazen attack.

“Only the oligarchs and the system could kill him,” she said.

Until every person responsible is arrested, Martine Moïse said the nation's fragile democracy will have no chance.

“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.”