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Colombian ex-soldier sentenced for role in Haitian president's assassination

Haiti holds funeral for assassinated President Jovenel Moise in Cap-Haitien

(Reuters) -Former Colombian army colonel German Rivera was on Friday sentenced to life in prison by a U.S. court for his role in the plot to kill Haitian President Jovenel Moise, whose 2021 assassination left a power vacuum that destabilized the country.

Rivera last month became the second of three defendants who have so far pleaded guilty to charges of participating in a plot to kill Moise, who was shot dead in his bedroom and his wife injured when armed men broke into their home at night.

There are a total of 11 defendants on the case, and last week police in Haiti arrested former justice official Joseph Felix Badio, who is accused of ordering the hit - which investigators say was carried out by Colombian mercenaries.

Several businessmen have also been accused of helping fund and supply the mission with weapons.

According to a signed plea document, Rivera, known as Colonel Mike, was part of the convoy which headed toward Moise's hillside Port-au-Prince residence on the night of the killing.

Rivera also relayed information to co-conspirators that the original plan to kidnap the president had become a plan to murder him, according to his plea.

Armed gangs have massively expanded their control since the killing, amassing arsenals of semi-automatic weapons believed to be largely trafficked from the United States and growing their wealth through frequent ransom kidnappings and extortion.

Around two million Haitians are estimated to live under gang control, and some 200,000 are internally displaced amid attacks as various gangs and police fight over neighborhoods.

Countries are mulling sending troops to support a U.N.-ratified force requested by Haiti's government a year ago to help outgunned police fight the gangs, but this has yet to materialize.

(Reporting by Sarah Morland and Kylie Madry)