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”.

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.

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