Canada police lay charges in alleged Haiti coup plot

Canadian federal police said Thursday they have charged a man in Quebec province for allegedly plotting to sow violence in Haiti and overthrow its government.

Gerald Nicolas, a 51-year-old resident of Levis, Quebec, is alleged to have "planned a terrorist act to overthrow the Haitian government of Jovenel Moise," the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement.

The RCMP said an investigation started in July 2021 revealed that Nicolas actively planned "to stage an armed revolution in Haiti and ultimately seize power."

Those "concrete actions," it said, included traveling to Haiti to coordinate a group that was to take part in the coup.

The RCMP noted, however, that the plot was unrelated to the assassination of Moise, who was shot dead in his bedroom by a commando group at his Port-au-Prince house in July 2021.

Haitian police had quickly arrested about 20 people at that time, including 18 former Colombian soldiers presumed to be hired as mercenaries.

But their investigation has since stalled.

No further information was immediately available about Nicolas's alleged motives in wanting to topple the Haitian government.

The Caribbean island nation's presidency has been vacant since Moise's death, with no date set for a vote to fill the office.

Haiti is now gripped by instability provoked by armed gangs terrorizing the population, and is again dealing with a cholera outbreak -- after stamping out a previous epidemic of the diarrheal disease that killed more than 10,000.

Nicolas is scheduled to appear in a Canadian court on December 1 to face charges of funding and facilitating terrorist activity, and travelling abroad to do so.

amc/tjj