PM testifies at Dudus enquiry
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minister Bruce Golding today began testifying at the Commission of Enquiry probing the circumstances surrounding the extradition of reputed gang leader, Christopher “Dudus” Coke to the United States last year.
Golding’s testimony is expected to bring to a close the two month sitting of the three-member Commission and is among the most eagerly awaited since he is expected to shed more light on the hiring of the United States-based law firm, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, to lobby Washington on stopping the extradition.
Golding has already said his administration did not hire the firm but it was the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) which he heads.
More than 70 people were killed in fierce gun battles between gunmen loyal to Coke and members of the security forces who went into Coke’s Tivoli Gardens stronghold to arrest him last May.
This morning’s session was taken up mainly by Queen Counsel Hugh Small, who is representing Golding, as he fielded questions related to the controversial role the Prime Minister played in the nine-month period leading to Coke’s extradition.
Golding, who will continue giving evidence after the luncheon period, is expected to be cross examined by former justice minister K D Knight, and Patrick Atkinson, who are representing the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) later next week.
Security around the Jamaica Conference Centre was noticeably increased today after the Commission as forced to end its sitting early after three suspicious packages were sent to lawyers.
The large, bulky yellow envelopes with no return addresses were addressed to Oliver Smith, the attorney representing Solicitor General Douglas Leys, Knight and Small.
Knight, who opened his package, found it to contain a threatening note as well as a powdery brown substance. The other lawyers refused to open their envelopes.
Police said they have since launched an investigation into the matter, but Knight said he would not be intimidated by the situation.