Dudus’ cap­ture was to be ‘sim­ple’

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

For­mer Jus­tice Min­is­ter and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Dorothy Light­bourne has re­vealed that she thought the 2010 in­cur­sion into the West Kingston com­mu­nity of Tivoli Gar­dens to cap­ture then-fugi­tive Christo­pher ‘Dudus’ Coke would be a “sim­ple op­er­a­tion”. Light­bourne’s dis­clo­sure came dur­ing cross-ex­am­i­na­tion be­fore the West Kingston Com­mis­sion of En­quiry on Wed­nes­day on whether she was briefed by the heads of the se­cu­rity forces about a “mas­sive op­er­a­tion” to ar­rest the con­victed drug king­pin.

“No. It was not a mas­sive op­er­a­tion. I thought it was just a sim­ple op­er­a­tion to go into Tivoli [Gar­dens] and ar­rest Mr Coke,” she said dur­ing cros­sex­am­i­na­tion by at­tor­ney-at-law Lord An­thony Gif­ford, who is rep­re­sent­ing the Of­fice of the Public De­fender (OPD).

Her an­swer, how­ever, trig­gered more ques­tions by Gif­ford.

“You knew that the Gov­ern­ment had determined, from ad­vice, that a mas­sive op­er­a­tion was needed in Tivoli and that knowl­edge was with you from as far back as the 17th of May [2010 when she in­formed Cabi­net that she was go­ing to sign the author­ity to pro­ceed with the ex­tra­di­tion re­quest for Coke]?” Gif­ford ques­tioned.

“No, no, no. There was no ad­vice that there was [to be] a mas­sive op­er­a­tion. No, no. I did not get that ad­vice,” Light­bourne in­sisted.

The West Kingston com­mis­sion of en­quiry is ex­am­in­ing, among other things, the con­duct of mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces dur­ing the May 2010 op­er­a­tions. A re­port by the OPD con­cluded that 76 civil­ians and one mem­ber of the Ja­maica De­fence Force were killed in the op­er­a­tion.

The for­mer jus­tice min­is­ter also de­nied a sug­ges­tion by Gif­ford that one of the rea­sons for “tragedy in Tivoli” was her “un­nec­es­sary de­lay” in sign­ing the author­ity to pro­ceed with the re­quest for Coke’s ex­tra­di­tion.

“I dis­agree with that ... that is not so,” she in­sisted. Light­bourne has tes­ti­fied that she first saw the ex­tra­di­tion re­quest on Au­gust 26, 2008, and that she signed the author­ity to pro­ceed on May 18, 2010.

Seek­ing to ex­plain the de­lay, the for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral re­it­er­ated, in ad­di­tion to the con­sti­tu­tional is­sues raised by her ad­min­is­tra­tion, that the wrong pro­ce­dure was used by the United States (US) to have Coke sent there to stand trial on drug and firearm charges.

“I un­der­stand that the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment had sought the ad­vice of the DPP [direc­tor of public pros­e­cu­tions] as to what pro­ce­dure they should use, ei­ther the pro­vi­sional war­rant method or the or­di­nary ex­tra­di­tion re­quest, and they were ad­vised not to go the pro­vi­sional method ... ,” Light­bourne sought to ex­plain. “Had they gone the pro­vi­sional method, he would have been ar­rested straight away. He would have been held for 60 days and, in those 60 days, what­ever con­cerns we had could have been re­solved,” she con­tin­ued.

Light­bourne also tes­ti­fied that she did not give any­one in the Ja­maica Labour Party (JLP) doc­u­ments re­lat­ing to Coke’s ex­tra­di­tion.

The for­mer jus­tice min­is­ter said she does not know if any­one in the JLP - which formed the gov­ern­ment at the time - had copies of the ex­tra­di­tion doc­u­ments as part of its ini­tia­tive to en­gage US lobby firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. She also ac­knowl­edged that if copies of the ex­tra­di­tion doc­u­ments were found at Coke’s Tivoli Gar­dens base, that should not have hap­pened based on the pro­ce­dure for the han­dling of ex­tra­di­tion re­quests. “They ought not to be there,” Light­bourne in­sisted. - Livern Bar­rett The Ja­maica Gleaner.

Dorothy Light­bourne, for­mer min­is­ter of jus­tice.

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