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")

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