An arrest warrant has been issued by a Haitian judge for more than 30 prominent figures accused of government corruption, including many former presidents and prime ministers.
The warrants, which were issued on Friday and were widely circulated on social media over the weekend, accuse the officers of stealing finances or equipment from Haiti’s National Equipment Centre.
This center is in charge of using heavy gear for duties such as road construction and rubble removal, particularly after earthquakes.
Former Presidents Michel Martelly and Jocelerme Privert have been named, as have former Prime Ministers Laurent Lamothe, Jean-Michel Lapin, Evans Paul, and Jean-Henry Céant.
It is common for Haitian officials accused in criminal or civil cases to ignore arrest warrants or requests for questioning and incur no sanction, because they accuse judges of political persecution.
It is also rare for a senior Haitian official to be accused of corruption, let alone put on trial.
Local newspaper Le Nouvelliste obtained a copy of a statement by Mr Lapin in which he claims that he was never officially notified of the arrest warrant.
He also said that at no time during his 32-year political career had he been involved with the National Equipment Centre.
Mr Privert issued a statement accusing the judge of having acted maliciously and thoughtlessly.
He also stated that the Court of First Instance in the capital Port-au-Prince “does not have jurisdiction over acts committed by presidents, prime ministers and ministers in the exercise of their duties”.
Former prime minister Claude Joseph, who is not named in the arrest warrant, said he had met the judge on Monday in case he could contribute to the case.