Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tivoli COE: Tipping off Coke seemingly of no moment

The alerting of Christopher "Dudus" Coke to the imminent extradition request by the United States has featured in two COE; firstly in the Manatt COE and now the Tivoli COE. Regrettably, not much light has been shed, even though Manatt COE generated much heat on the topic.

The Tivoli COE  failed to further the investigation and therefore added nothing to the pool of information already in the public space. Garnett Roper writing in The Gleaner, Sunday, August 14, 2016 noted that there is no mechanism to hold those of the political class accountable for abuse of power, bad governance and "announcements that tipped off Coke so that Tivoli could be armed and barricaded and 300 gunmen recruited to declare war on the Jamaican state".

The "tipping off" formed the basis of ToR (N) and ToR (O) and was disposed of in Chapter 12.[See our posts: Tivoli COE: Diddly Squat (1) and Tivoli COE: Diddly Squat (2)] Nevertheless, there is a rather curious treatment of the evidence of the then Prime Minister, especially in light of the rather hostile treatment meted out  in Manatt COE to the proposition that a number of individuals had the information and identified individuals had possession of the authenticated documents during the period under review.

Chapter 12, Part 2  focusses on the authenticated/confidential documents relating to Coke's extradition purportedly found at the offices of the Presidential Click. Interestingly, there is a sub-heading Mr. Bruce Golding with the following:

12.26   In the course of his evidence-in-chief, Mr. Golding was questioned with specific reference to Term of Reference (O).He told the Enquiry that he had learnt, from media reports, that copies of affidavits and other confidential documents relative to the extradition request, were found at Coke's offices. In answer to Mr. Braham Q.C., Mr, Golding said that he had no knowledge of the circumstances under which the documents came to be at Coke's offices.

12.27     But Mr. Golding further said-
            
 "I am not sure what documents were found but documents relating to Mr. Coke's indictment    were universally available. They were posted on the website of the Southern District Court of New York two days after the extradition request was received. I myself became aware of that listening to a radio station quoting from documents and indicating how they had sourced it. I went on the website myself and the documents were there to be downloaded."

Without more, the Commissioners engineered the following Finding

12.30    We find that Mr, Golding had no personal knowledge of the documents relating to the request for Coke's extradition. We also accept that Mr. Golding saw documents relating to the Coke's indictment on the website of the Southern District Court for New York. Since the documents were freely available on the website to the world at large, any person
 (including Coke ) could have downloaded them.

Maybe it is just a typographical omission; but there is a world of a difference between having no knowledge of the circumstances under which the documents ( whatever they might have been ) came to be at Coke's offices and "having no personal knowledge of the documents relating to the request for Coke's extradition". Surely Bruce Golding had personal knowledge of the documents relating to the said extradition.

The Commissioners elected to shrugg off the foundations unearthed in the Manatt COE . Since Coke himself could have downloaded the documents from the said website, then that's the end of the mater.

 Suppose the documents found were copies of authenticated documents that went through the official governmental channels.Probably that is why they are conveniently missing, lost or destroyed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tivoli COE: Diddly Squat (2)

Part 2 of Chapter 12  of the Report has not done diddly squat to clarify "whether copies of affidavits and other confidential supporting documents attached to or related to the request for extradition of Christopher Coke were found in coke's offices, and the circumstances under which and purposes for which those documents came to be there." ToR (O)

The evidence is that a copy of what appeared to be Extradition papers ( in a rolled up state) was found by a member of the Engineers, JDF, and handed over to a police officer who has since emigrated  after resigning from the JCF. 

The said papers could not be found.

The finding JDF officer could not identify the contents of the papers which were found in a drawer.

" It said something like " The Federal Grand Jury of New York" and Coke's name was mentioned.. I recall the papers had been rolled up. We had to unroll it...    It may have been more than one sheet."

 Findings 12.29
"Nevertheless we find that a set of papers relevant to the extradition of Coke was found by the JDF at his offices at Presidential Click......
"We find that those documents found by the Engineers related to the extradition request although we are unable to identify each document specifically.
" In the absence of evidence from Coke himself, it is impossible to determine the purposes for which he had the documents or how he received them."

Comments:

  • So the Commissioners were unable to say (i) if those papers found were copies of authenticated documents; (ii) if they were copies of affidavits and other confidential supporting documents attached to the Extradition Request of Christopher "Dudus" Coke.
  • Furthermore, did the Commissioners seek to ascertain which officials of the GOJ had possession and custody of the said documents throughout the period under review?
  • Is it really "impossible to determine the purposes for which Coke would have gotten copies of the supporting documents related to his extradition in the absence of Coke himself giving evidence"?
  • Given the security operations which were activated during the period Coke was in custody, was there the remotest of probability that Coke would have been expected to give evidence before the COE?
  • Even if video conferencing would obviate the need for Coke's physical presence, why would Coke be willing to facilitate the Tivoli COE
Part 1 deals with whether there was any communication between any official of the GOJ and Christopher Coke during the period 24 August 2009 to 22 June 2010-- ToR (N).


Tivoli COE: Diddly Squat (1)

Chapter 12 of the Report of the Western Kinston Commission of Enquiry is a complete waste of time and added nothing to the pool of information already in the public space. Simply put, it is "diddly squat".
Chapter 12 purports to address (i) the issue of any communication between any official of the GOJ and Christopher Coke during the period 24 August 2009 to June 2010; and (ii) matters concerning the search for and discovery of documents at Coke's offices by the security forces. See our post " Tivoli COE: Diddly Squat (2)"

                                    GOJ Officials Communicating with Coke

"12.15   On the evidence adduced to the Commission of Enquiry ,we find that there was no direct communication during the period 24 August 2009 and May 2010 between Christopher Coke and any official of the Government of Jamaica. The evidence of Coke being "tipped off" on 24 August 2009 after the Heads of the security forces informed the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Security of an imminent request for Coke's extradition, is not of a quality that could leads us to make any finding of communication between Coke and any official of the GOJ."(emphasis added)

Certain observations are unavoidable:

(a) The Commissioners have adopted a courtroom approach in a criminal trial in which the judge merely acts on the evidence adduced. Thus any inadequacy is placed directly on those charged with the responsibility of adducing the evidence, in this case Commission Counsel.

(b) There seems to be an overly pedantic approach. Obviously Coke was "tipped off".
Common sense  ( utilized by the Commissioners later ) leads one to conclude that it would be rather reckless for any official of the GOJ to be in direct communication with Coke. Hence surrogates would have been employed by both sides and coded messages utilized.

(c) There is evidence available from the Heads of the Security Forces that Coke was under "surveillance " and was being "monitored"for some two weeks before the period under investigation.

(d) In the absence of a belated confession from a GOJ official and traces of telephonic communication from the locales of the Ministry of National Security and Vale Royal around the material times, then this was an exercise in futility.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Tivoli COE: Intelligence MIA

The Commissioners have in their report highlighted the glaring fact that the enquiry was severely hampered by the absence of pertinent reports from the intelligence units of the security forces which were operative during the May 2010 debacle.

Chapter 13 : "The circumstances under which the fugitive Christopher "Dudus" Coke managed to elude arrest during and after the operation by the security forces of Jamaica in Tivoli Gardens and related areas in May 2010, and the circumstances of his capture," ToR (P) made the telling admission in its Introduction

"31.1   The sources of information and evidential foundations of this Chapter are largely based on testimony of members of the security forces. We received no direct evidence from the Heads of Intelligence units or any self-acknowledged Intelligence units or analysts except for DCP Hinds. However, we were provided with opinions or assessments, formed by officers in light of the Intelligence reports supplied to them."(emphasis added)

The Commissioners have not revealed if any attempts were made to get such direct evidence from the intelligence units and the responses received. Furthermore, on what basis  could the Commissioners have formed the impression that the opinions or assessments formed by the officers who gave evidence before the COE were in fact influenced by the reports supplied to them? Indeed it not unexpected to justify actions based on "intelligence supplied at the time"
.
 The telling absence of Intelligence reports apparently forced the Commissioners to indulge in some curious reasoning resulting in unsubstantiated "Findings" mixed with a sprinkling of beliefs.
For example:

13.40 " Cogent evidence of Coke's presence in Tivoli Gardens is thin and inconclusive. We have only the evidence of members of the security forces as to the contents of Intelligence Reports" 
However after reviewing the testimonies of CoP Ellington, DCP Hinds, Maj. Williams, the Commissioners found that the information given to CoP Ellington was "patently incorrect".

13.41 "We are bound to conclude that the Intelligence reports of Coke's presence in Tivoli Gardens on 24 May were wrong or, at best, unreliable. Certainly, it is clear that Intelligence available to CoP Ellington was wide off the mark"
After purporting to use 'commonsense' the conclusion was reached that "The Intelligence on which CoP Ellington was "operating" was wholly erroneous."

13.44 " We are unable to make any findings as to how Coke escaped, We listened to the theories advanced by CDS Saunders and Maj. Williams and CoP Ellington but such evidence is speculative. In the result, the probative value of such theoretical evidence is of little or no assistance."

The Findings relating to the capture of Coke is a classic. Being devoid of Intelligence Reports and having taken the decision to avoid the risk of prejudicing the trial of the Rev. Dr. Merrick "Al" Miller, the Commissioners sought refuge in belief:

13.54 " We believe that he was able to avoid capture for 29 days because of the power of his vast criminal organisation which must have provided support systems for him."


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tivoli COE: Paul Ashley's Recommendations


The Report of The West Kingston Commission of Enquiry 2016 has been made public. There has been widespread discussion in the public space as to the value-added of this enquiry. The Gleaner, July 12,2016 reported that " The Government has put the full cost of the enquiry about $450.8m". The cost of 'high-powered" lawyers representing state agencies has gained  notorious attention.

The Commission invited members of the public to submit proposals which would be taken into consideration in its Report. A list of the persons who submitted Memoranda of Recommendations is published in Appendix 4. It would have been useful if the public was afforded easy access to such memoranda which may, or may not, have found favour with the Commissioners.

Below is mine which was submitted on January 6, 2016:


                                      Subject: Proposed Recommendations from the Public


   1. The Establishment of a dedicated web-site


There is a substantial amount of pertinent information on the security operations in West Kingston (mainly Tivoli Gardens) in May 2010 that has not been admitted into evidence for a multiplicity of justifiable reasons.
Amongst that mass are some that where excluded because they were basically duplicitous and added nothing new to areas adequately covered by previously admitted testimonies.
It is being proposed that this dedicated website would be an official depository of all material information—disclosure of which would not breach confidentiality and public interest immunity.
Such would be easily accessible to all at no cost; provide an invaluable research tool; and be a reliable source of official information.
Should contain inter alia: Terms of   Reference, concise bios of the Commissioners, names of the Secretariat and supporting staff, names of the 76 deceased, budget, verbatim notes of the proceeding, all exhibits admitted into evidence, the Final Report.


   2. The immediate cessation of the practice of destroying/commandeering the “personal papers” when a member of the political directorate has demitted office.


It has been revealed that “personal correspondence” to the then Minster of National Security has been burnt under the direction of the Permanent Secretary in accordance with the established practice.
Even more glaring was the removal by the out going Prime Minister of official correspondence sent to him whilst in office.
This information belongs to the public of Jamaica and must be preserved in the event of judicial, quasi-judicial or historical enquiry.
Whereas in certain circumstances the Member could be provided with copies of the documents so requested, under no circumstances whatsoever should the originals be destroyed or be in the possession of the Member.


   3. Ballistic Profile of Firearms.


The ballistic profile of all firearms acquired be the Security Forces (JDF & JCF) as well as those acquired by private security firms must be recorded before the firearms are assigned.
In the situation where the firearms are already in use, then the ballistic profiles must be obtained within 60 days from the date of the Final Report.
The ballistic profile must be securely archived by the units involved with copies stored under the auspices of the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Justice.
In the case of private security firms, compliance with the ballistic profile requirement will be a pre- condition for the granting/renewal of their operating licence.



   4. Protocol Governing the operation of a Commission of Enquiry


A Commission of Enquiry (COE) should normally be commissioned no later than 12- calendar months after the start of the event(s), which will form the main subject matter of its investigation.
Where the COE is commissioned after the 12- month period, then all pertinent documentation must be sequestered under the auspices of the Commission Counsel as a matter of urgency.
The Secretariat must be fully operational for at the very least 1- calendar month prior to the commencement date of public hearings.
The duration period of the public hearings must be precisely stated—consecutive working days, consecutive calendar months, or total number of days of public hearings (It is untenable for a 3-month enquiry to last some 14 months due to the interpretation of it being 90 non-consecutive working days).




Monday, April 18, 2016

Tivoli COE: Impractical timelines



The Tivoli COE was mandated to have its public hearings conducted within a 3-month time period. The Commissioners exceeded this time span and did so without seeking the appropriate extension from the Governor- General.

Two concerns come readily to mind:

  •  Having ignored the protocol, what is the legal status of the public hearings conducted after the stipulated time span had expired? and 
  • What were the circumstances that accounted for the overrun and where such unforeseen and/or unavoidable ?

i) We are not in a position to state definitively if the overrun has altered the legal status of the public hearings conducted after the stipulated 3-month. Having not sought or obtained the extension, then it would seem that an argument could be made that the public hearings conducted after the expiry of the mandate would have no legal standing. Hence, the Commissioners would be barred from taking into their consideration any evidence given after the expired date. Consequently any adverse findings based on evidence deduced after the expiry date would have no legal effect. In other words the Tivoli COE acted ultra vires for the subsequent period.
The ramifications of such a position would be catastrophic to say the least.

ii) The only official reasons given for the Tivoli COE non- compliance with its mandate can be found in the Chairman’s closing remarks. However, his reasoning was more instructive:

“Because our Instrument of Appointment referred to three months for the public hearings there seems to be a view that we could have done this enquiry in three consecutive months.  I want to disabuse the public's mind of the appropriateness - just one minute please, I wish to disabuse the public's mind that these enquiries can be satisfactorily conducted in that manner.”

Note the admission that the Instrument of Appointment stipulated three months. The Chairman interpreted that to mean 90 non-consecutive working days. And has congratulated himself (along with others) on such an achievement:

“It has been, I speak for all three of us of course, in these remarks, it has been intellectually challenging and at the same time highly rewarding if at times emotionally draining, but we have completed within the 90 days. Today is the 90th day. I feel very proud of that myself because the Instrument which appointed us from His Excellency the Governor General asked us to complete this hearing within 90 days.”  

Again the Governor General stipulated 3 months; and not 90 non-consecutive working days. This is critical for using the Chairman’s interpretation, the Tivoli COE could have lasted, not 14 months but considerably longer.( see our Tivoli COE: 3-month enquiry lasts 14 months)

After itemizing a number of reasons why the Tivoli COE could not be conducted within 3 calendar months or even within 90 consecutive working days, the Chairman revealed that the stipulated time frame was impractical from the very beginning:

“I am just saying that it is really an impractical solution to expect that 
these things could be done in 90 days on the troth.”

 We have no reason to question the reasons advanced by the Chairman. We are left to wonder if the much-experienced Chairman could not have raised this issue with the appropriate authourities so that the Instrument of Appointment would have accorded with the reality.

But having proffered his unusual ( albeit expedient) interpretation, the Chairman then proceeded to remind his audience of the exact reference for the submission of the report:

"And I further direct you to report to me in writing within two months after concluding the Enquiry the result of such enquiry and to furnish to me a full and faithful report and recommendations of the proceedings." 

 However, the Chairman has made it abundantly clear that this two-month deadline is “an extremely tall order”.

“But however, it turns out we are hoping if we cannot make the 20th of April, no longer than two weeks thereafter.  So by the middle of May, I hope that we will be in a position, I hope all things being equal, no unforeseen circumstances to have the report ready.”

We wish to re-emphasize the point that it would have been tidier if the Chairman had had some input at the earliest time so that the timelines stipulated would have accorded with the reality. That not being the case, then the Chairman should have adopted the appropriate protocol and sought an extension.

We await April 20,2016--- with reduced expectation that the report could be delivered sometime in mid-May 2016.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Tivoli COE: Source(s) of Dudus’ Tip off


The Terms Of Reference Of The West Kingston Commission of Enquiry mandates the enquiry into inter alia:

“(n) whether there was any direct or indirect communication between the fugitive 
Christopher “Dudus” Coke, and any Jamaican Government Official (or Officials) or 
any agent thereof, during the period between when the Request for Extradition was 
first communicated to the Jamaican Government or any of its agents or officials 
and when the fugitive Christopher “Dudus” Coke was arrested;  and if so, by which 
Officials and or agents thereof, the nature of any or all such communications, by 
what means and for what purposes.”

No evidence has been adduced before the COE from which the inference could be made that any official of the Government of Jamaica directly or indirectly contacted Christopher “Dudus” Coke regarding the imminent request for his extradition. (See our Tivoli COE: Who tipped off Dudus?)

Both the then Minister of National Security, Dwight Nelson and the then Prime Minister have vigourously denied that:
i) they made contact with Coke or instructed anyone to do so on their behalf ;
ii) they were aware of anyone making such contact on August 24,2009.

There is unchallenged evidence that Coke was tipped off after the Heads of the Security Forces made the Minister of National Security aware of the impending request and the Minister had telephoned the Prime Minister to arrange a meeting.

The evidence before the Simmons chaired COE concerning the tip-off emanated from the CDS Major General Stewart Saunders:

“Having briefed the Prime Minister on the 24th of August at Vale Royal, I left Vale Royal, the Commissioner of Police left, both of us left at the same time and I would say that roughly within probably five to ten minutes of me leaving Vale Royal, I received information stating that Mr. Coke had fled his residence in Belvedere, upper St. Andrew in a rather hurried manner and drove straight into Tivoli Gardens. The reason the information was so correct is based upon the fact that, as I stated before at this Commission, Mr. Coke had been under surveillance for perhaps two weeks prior to that date.”

Under cross- examination the CDS revealed that he obtained the information when he had arrived at Up Park Camp –the journey from Vale Royal taking “ roughly five minutes or so”. Furthermore, the Major General agreed that Coke would have already reached Tivoli Gardens when the information was relayed.

More importantly, the CDS estimated that it would have take Coke “about ten/fifteen minutes” to complete the journey from his residence to his safe haven in Tivoli Gardens. It is reasonable to infer that Coke must have been tipped off before the Heads of the Security Forces had left Vale Royal.

The duration of the briefing of the Prime Minister by the Heads of the Security Forces seems immaterial in terms of the tip off. However, it is worthy of note that the CDS estimated it to be “ about fifteen or twenty minutes”; whereas the Prime Minster stated that it lasted” no more than five minutes”.

Conclusion:
The Commission can only consider the evidence presented. There is other pertinent information from then Commissioner of Police, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin regarding the timing of the tip off.  (See our Tivoli COE: The Commissioner of Police Informs)
Major General Stewart Saunders has not informed the COE of whether Coke surveillance included electronic monitoring.
It seems reasonable to consider if, in this age of modern technology, some attempt could have been made to ascertain at the very lest the geographic location of the tip off call.
If indeed the Military Intelligence Unit has such information, then what purpose was being served by the Tivoli COE not exploring fully this aspect?
No confidential documents ( of copies thereof) were reported to be found by the security forces in Mr. Coke’s offices in Java, Tivoli Gardens, during the May 2010 operations.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Tivoli COE: The Capture of Christopher “Dudus” Coke



Christopher “Dudus” Coke was captured on June 22, 2010. The public was given scarcely any details on the operation. The published photograph of Coke wearing a female wig—the camouflage Coke was alleged to having been wearing in the company of Reverend Al Miller,drew substantial public (derisive?) commentary.

The testimony of CDS, Major General Stewart Saunders before the Western Kingston Commission of Enquiry on June 23, 2015 gives some insight into the capture:
  • Intelligence reports had placed Coke in St Ann and a number of operations had been launched to capture him. The reports were unable to verify his exact location.
  • On June 22,2010 Coke left St. Ann. Intelligence resources picked up Coke somewhere in the region of Ewarton, Bog Walk entering the Gorge.
  • Reports also indicated that Coke was in the company of Rev. Al Miller and that he was on his way to the US Embassy in Kingston.
Interestingly, it was the Chairman himself who examined the Major General on the circumstances surrounding the capture of Coke. The following excerpts are telling:

Commissioner: Am I getting the sense that on the 22nd of June Coke was probably about to surrender?
Major General Saunders: I don’t know if I could accept that as a fact. It is highly probable that he was about to do that.
Commissioner: You are saying that there were reports that he was on his way to the Embassy with Reverend Miller?
Major General Saunders: Yes, I also had reports previously that he wanted an opportunity to hand himself over to the JDF as opposed to the police. So there is no way that I could have verified those set of things.

Unresolved Issues:

i) Reverend Merrick “Al” Miller is currently being tried on charges arising out of the circumstances of the capture.The trial proceedings have not given any further insights into the circumstances surrounding the capture of Coke. Miller has always maintained that he had made the Police High Command well- aware his mission and subsequent actions.COP Ellington has consistently refuted this claim.

ii) The Tivoli COE did not to deal with the numerous questions surrounding the exact location in St Ann that Coke sought refuge. Indeed the probability of Coke hiding out at the Government house in St. Ann was never explored.

iii) It seems that in any attempt to unearth the truth about the circumstances leading to the capture of Coke the evidence of Reverend Miller would have been critical. Steps ought to have been taken to facilitate such testimony.

Update: Rev. Dr Merrick "Al" Miller found guilty.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Tivoli COE: Disjointed Police – Military Operations?



From the evidence adduced at the Western Kingston Commission of Enquiry there was no joint Police-Military operation in May 2010 with the prime purpose of executing the arrest warrant for Christopher “Dudus” Coke.

Officially, the warrant for the arrest of Coke was the remit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). However, given the very limited capabilities of the JCF, the assistance of the Jamaica Defence (JDF) was critical to any such operation, even more so given the influence and resources of the Don in question.

So in all operations even a token presence of a member of the JCF was mandatory outside of a declared state of emergency. In the latter case the army is given overwhelming police powers, chief among which is the power to arrest. Hence under a declared state of emergency army units need not have a member of the JCF present.

It is against this background that the operation to capture Coke must be assessed.

The surveillance party was composed of resources from the JDF and JCF. That had to be officially the case; even though it is likely that the Military Intelligence Unit and a specially trained combat team would have been the driving force.

There were two separate operational plans. The military had its “Operation Garden Parish” whilst the police had its “ Operation KeyWest”. The existence of two separate plans is not unusual in security operations.
What is startling is that the top brass of each was unaware of the other plan: DCP Glenmore Hinds --who was in charge of the JCF Operations portfolio -- was unaware of Operation Garden Parish. Major General Stewart Saunders never saw the Operational Order (ie. Operation KeyWest) before the date of his testimony before the Commission—23 June 2015.

The sharing of information was abysmal.
Major General Saunders took sole responsibility for the decision to use mortars during the Tivoli operation of May 2010. Commission of Police, Owen Ellington, knew nothing about the decision or its implementation.
DCP Glemore Hinds was not made aware of the intelligence the military had during the operation of the route Coke had used to escape on May 24,2010. DCP Hinds was a part of the “Gold Command”.

 Indeed, so glaring was this deficiency that the Commission Chairman, Sir David Simmons, was moved to declare:
              “ I find it hard to accept that if there was intelligence coming through that Coke had got away           and the route through which he had got away, that this was not shared with you as head of operation. I cannot--- I find it hard to accept. I just say that.”

The capture of Coke was also heralded as a police operation.There is no dispute that the military was critical during the surveillance operation, monitoring and the location of the eventual capture.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tivoli COE:That Vale Royal Alert


             
Date: August 24, 2009
Time Early afternoon
Place: Vale Royal
Topic: The Extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke
Participants: Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding
                     Chief Defence Staff, Major General Stewart Saunders
                    Commissioner of Police, Rear Adm. Hardley Lewin

Only PM and the CDS gave testimony at the Tivoli COE. No reason was given for the omission of the COP.
A review of the verbatim notes reveal some very interesting anomalies which will have to be resolved in the Commission’s Report.

For example:

i) Duration:

PM Golding testified that the meeting lasted “no more than five minutes"; whereas the CDS said that “.. we spoke with the PM for about fifteen or twenty minutes”.

 Lewin elsewhere has given the impression that the meeting was unexpectedly brief: “So the PM says” Well I have been briefed”. So we saluted smartly and we left”.

ii) Purpose:

All seem agreed on the main purpose of the meeting.

Golding…..”As I recall the Rear Admiral who was then the Commissioner of Police said that he was requested by the US authority to advise me that a request for Coke would be brought to Jamaica by a special agent the following day which would have meant the 25th August.”

iii) Substance:

According to the CDS….” We gave the Prime Minister a thorough brief so that he was aware of what the extradition, once signed, what was requested and what would have to be done.”

For Golding… “ there was no discussion about any strategy to execute the warrant because there was no warrant yet.” 

Lewin corroborated Golding’s recollection in that he “expected a serious hunkering down: the what ifs; what are your plans; what do you expect etc, etc, etc, in regard to this matter.”

There is cogent evidence of Christopher Coke being under surveillance for some two weeks prior to the Vale Royal Meeting. That surveillance party had the capability to effect a “soft detention” if and when required so to do. The “tip off” of Dudus put paid to that plan.

The Tivoli COE Report will have to assess the remifications that “soft detention” plan which would have facilitated Coke being detained, interviewed concerning an abduction matter in which he was “a person of interest”. Such arrest would have taken place outside of his stronghold of Tivoli Gardens.

Curiously, the Minister of National Security did not attend the said meeting-- said he was not invited. Moreover, he never enquired of the participants as to the substance of the discussions. Yet the Heads of the Security forces had visited his offices, alerted him to the impending request and he then phoned the Prime Minister to arrange the meeting.(For a comprehensive review of his role in this affair, see our post "Next-to Nil Nelson")





Monday, March 28, 2016

Tivoli COE: Next-to-Nil Nelson


           
Apart from making a phone call to Prime Mister Bruce Golding informing him that COP Hardley Lewin and CDS Major General Stuart Saunders was in his company and had certain information which would be on interest to him, what else did Minister of National Security, Hon. Dwight Nelson, do in respect of the extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke?

It is very difficult to avoid the answer: “Next to nothing”.

There is no evidence before the Tivoli COE from which one could even reasonably infer that Nelson made another phone call concerning the impending request.
Minister Nelson did not accompany the COP and the CDS to the Prime Minister and did not discuss with either of the heads of the security forces or the Prime Minister what took place at that meeting.
The Minister admitted that he absolutely did not have any responsibility in the extradition matters.
At no stage did the Minister of National Security get involved.
Nelson had no meeting in relation to operations in May 2010 with the security forces.
Had not requested or required to do anything in the role of Minister of National Security:

“ There was nothing I could do. I could not give any instructions to the Police. I had no authority to instruct the Police in the operations they were carrying out, and I certainly had no authority to instruct the Defence Force, because that is not within the realms of my responsibility. But I sat in a number of discussions with the Prime Minister, who as you can imagine whose authority supersede my authority as Minister of National Security.” 

Nelson was made aware of the incidents of May 2010 primarily by the Prime Minister with whom       he sat in a number of meetings in cabinet and less formally at Vale Royal.
Nelson, however, was not aware of a “soft plan” to detain Coke; not apprised of the use of mortars in the Tivoli operations; never made aware of any request for assistance from the US with aerial surveillance; not aware of any surveillance of a house in Belvedere where Coke was alleged to be.

Nelson’s participation in the hearings had a saving grace: exposure of the treatment of documents once the Minister has demitted office:

“Remember,you know, when I left the Ministry of National Security I did not take any letters, any files, any folders, I left everything there. I did not take a piece of paper out of the Ministry with me. I left everything there and prior to writing the statement, I spoke to the former Permanent Secretary and the Director of Security in the Ministry and my former secretary who is now secretary of the present Minister to determine whether any of those documents could be retrieved or existed still and was told, no, they were all destroyed. I was told by the secretary to the Minister and the Director of Security and the former Permanent Secretary that they destroyed everything even cabinet files.”

That archaic practice runs counter to any attempt at transparency and accountability. This “established practice” at the very minimum fuels the public perception of corruption by political office holders.

“I cannot recall” any lasting contribution of Nelson even in the Manatt COE. That indeed may be his legacy.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Tivoli COE: COP Disconcertingly Disconnected

We have had the opportunity to scrutinize the verbatim notes of the testimony given before the Tivoli COE by the then Commissioner of Police (COP) Owen Ellington.We are somewhat bewildered by some of the revelations made to the COE.

Below are some of the most disconcerting:

  • Ellington acted as COP between November 7, 2009 to early April 2010 when he assumed the substantive position until retirement  in 2014. Before that he was DCP in charge of Operations.Yet he only became aware of the request pending for the extradition of Christopher "Dudus" Coke via media reports and knew nothing of any "soft detention " consideration.
  • On May 17, 2010 Ellington heard of the intention of the AG to sign the Authourity to Proceed via the national public broadcast made by then Prime Minister Bruce Golding.On hearing such news the COP-- who had been planning with the CDS Major General Stuart Saunders from mid November or early December 2009--did not immediately make contact with the CDS.
  • The then COP was not in a position to comment on whether the use of mortar was considered or in fact done.
  • He had intelligence that Coke was in Tivoli Gardens (TG) up until the Sunday afternoon before the joint military-police exercise; but did not seek to establish exactly where in TG Coke was located. Furthermore he revealed that he had no information about Coke's day-day movement.
  • The then COP did not see the need to place members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force at the end of the tunnels which had been previously identified as possible escape routes for Coke.
What is even more bewildering is the apparent breakdown in the relationship between the COP and the Prime Minister who, in addition to being Minister of Defence, had assumed the portfolio responsibility of the Minister of National Security:
  • Prime Minister Golding was not briefed about a Plan for the capture of Coke in January 2010--the date of "Operation Keywest".
  • The OPM received a copy of the Strategic Plan identified as Appendix "A"of a bundle of documents submitted by the COP Owen Ellington on January 05, 2011.
  • That bundle entitled "Operational Report  Extradition of Christopher "Dudus" Coke 2010" was prepared in August 2010.
It will be very interesting to see how the Commissioners will treat the evidence given by the then COP. Of critical importance is the issue of the nature and extent of the so-called "joint military-police operations."
Given the nature and scope of the resistance encountered, did the police cede total operational control to the army? 
Was there a conspiracy to exclude the political directorate from the loop, given the political affiliation and criminal reach of Christopher "Dudus" Coke aka "Presi"?

Tivoli COE: 3-month enquiry lasts 14 months



The Report of the Tivoli COE is expected around mid-April, some two (2) months after the end of the public hearings. Those public hearings took place over some fourteen (14) calendar months.
The Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Western Kingston Commission of Enquiry states iner alia:

2. The Commission shall use its best efforts to conclude its enquiry within three (3) months after it commences, and shall make a full and faithful report on and recommendations concerning the aforesaid matters, and transmit the same to His Excellency the Most Honourable Governor General, within two (2) months after concluding its enquiry.” 

Obviously there was the expectation that the public hearing would have lasted some three (3) consecutive calendar months from the date of commencement baring any unavoidable and unforeseeable delays. Similarly the Report should be submitted to the Governor- General within two (2) consecutive calendar months of concluding of its enquiry, baring any unavoidable and unforeseeable delays.

The Chairman of the Commission from very early in the exercise realized there was a problem in respect of the number of potential witnesses primarily from the security forces and the residents of Tivoli Gardens. An attempt was then made to cull the list of potential witness thereby calling those who would have added something to the evidence already adduced and to focus the testimonies on the particulars of the TOR.
Such attempts met with mixed results as both Attorneys and witnesses paid little or no regard to the strictures that the Chairman tried to impose. Being televised and rebroadcast there was added sensitivity not to be potrayed as limiting the evidence or unduly restricting the strategy of the attorneys.

The Chairman then resorted to an unusual (albeit practical) interpretation of the TOR by:
(i) inferring that the three months should not be taken to mean three consecutive calendar months;
(ii) that the three(3) months meant in fact ninety (90) non- consecutive working days .

That interpretation allowed the Chairman free reign to conduct the hearings at any period of time primarily, but not exclusively, at his convenience . There seems to have been serious underlying problems faced by the Commission Secretariat which severely impacted the logistics. (see our Tivoli COE: Impractical timelines)

In his concluding remarks the Chairman sought to justify his interpretation arguing that the tasks assigned could not have been completed within the time frame specified in the TOR.
Interestingly, and possibly not consistent with his unusual interpretation of the duration of the enquiry, he promised that the Commissioners would use their best efforts to submit the Report within the two (2) months specified. The expectation is that it will be two (2) consecutive calendar months and not sixty(60) non-consecutive working days.

It is untenable for a 3-month enquiry to last some 14 months due to the interpretation of it being 90 non-consecutive working days.



Friday, November 13, 2015

The CCJ: "the will of the PNP"


  • There has been talk of  behind-the- scenes moves aimed at breaking the deadlock over the three CCJ Bills.
  • A proposed Agreement was to operate on two levels: the Government and the Opposition one one level  and the PNP and JLP on the other.

Deadlock:

The Government wishes the Opposition to support the CCJ Bills by voting in favour of the CCJ Bills, both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
The Opposition wishes the issue of whether the Caribbean Court of Justice should replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as Jamaica's final Court of Appeal to be put to the Jamaican electorate by way of a vote.

Proposed solution:

  1.  More than 50% of Opposition Members in the House of Representatives and more than 50% of the Opposition Senators in the Senate will vote in support of the CCJ Bills in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, respectively.
  2. The question to be put to the electorate: "Are you in favour of the Caribbean Court of Justice replacing the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as Jamaica's final Court of Appeal"
  3. The electorate may vote Yes or No to that question.
  4. All parties to the Agreement would  agree "not  to say or do anything, or allow any of its officers or appointed candidates to say or do anything, whether in media advertising, media interviews, public debates, media talk shows, published articles, platform speeches or other public activities..... that might reasonably be perceived to be inconsistent  with a support of a Yes vote.
  5. The Government would " not bring the CCJ Bills into operation by way of publication in the Gazette of a notice in accordance with clause 1 of each of the CCJ Bills unless and until-- (i) the question referred to in paragraph  1(a) has been put to a vote by the electorate in Jamaica, and (ii) votes Yes are cast in that vote by more than 50% of the voters who vote thereon."
  6. In the event of any material breach occurring after the CCJ Bills have been passed by Parliament with the support of at least two-thirds of members of each House, the Government shall be released from any further obligations and the Government may thereafter cause the CCJ Bills to be brought into operation.
Controversy:
The above was brought to the attention of the Senate by the Leader of Opposition Business, Senator Tavares-Finson. However, Government Senators have countered that it was a personal initiative of the Leader of Government Business in the House of Representative, Phillip Paulwell.