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."