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Tivoli Gardens Enquiry continues

Jamaica Observer

Tivoli Gardens Enquiry continues

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KINGSTON – A woman testified in the Tivoli Gardens Enquiry yesterday that she was knocked unconscious by mortar fire during the May 2010 operation to apprehend then ‘area don’ Christopher “Dudus” Coke, which left her injured and disabled in the right hand.

“Something ketch mi; the bomb,” said Marjorie Hinds. “It lift me up a fling me out in the road,” she testified.

Hinds was the second witness to testify yesterday about the use of mortar in Tivoli Gardens on the day the police/military operation began on May 24, 2010.

Tivoli Gardens resident Romaine Walker testified that a mortar round hit his house, and that one fell in a neighbour’s yard and another place.

He said he saw three people bleeding and crying in the vicinity where one of the mortar rounds fell, and that two of them later died. He also provided pictures of a mortar tail which he said his friend, Michael Williams, claimed to have found in his own yard.

However, his evidence did not go unchallenged, and he told Linton Gordon, one of the attorneys representing the Jamaica Defence Force, under cross-examination, that he did not see when the mortars were fired. He said he did not see when Williams took the mortar tail from his yard and that Williams only showed it to him two years after the operation.

He agreed that he wouldn’t have known where Williams got the mortar tail.

Asked by Gordon if he knew that bullet fragments were found in one of the people he said was killed by mortar fire, Walker said he was no forensic pathologist.

Post-mortem reports are expected to be provided to show what caused the death of the two.

Questioned by attorney Michael Williams, who appears for the advocacy group Tivoli Committee, Walker said that he never saw any evidence that mortars were fired in the square of the community or the ball field.

Major General Stewart Saunders had testified in June that instructions were given for mortars to be fired in open areas away from civilian the population in order to scare off the gunmen opposing Coke’s arrest.

The Tivoli Enquiry, which resumed yesterday at the Jamaica Conference Centre following the summer break, is looking into the circumstances surrounding the death of 72 people during the operation to nab Coke and restore law and order in the West Kingston area.

Yesterday, Hinds testified that she was injured after going out into the community to look for Radcliffe Freeman, the father of her children, who had gone to repair a door.

She said she woke up in the Kingston Public Hospital after the explosion, where she spent four weeks. Hinds said, amid tears, that she received burns to her buttocks and leg, while her right hand was rendered disabled. She said she later learnt that Freeman was dead.

She’s to continue giving evidence today. (Observer)