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Bunting likens Opposition's position on Abu Bakr to Dudus delays

Published:Thursday | October 23, 2014 | 10:00 AM
Peter Bunting

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

IT
APPEARS that a specialised aircraft was used to remove Trinidadian
Yasin Abu Bakr from Jamaica at a cost of $4 million to local taxpayers.

With
the Government under pressure for the amount spent to deport Abu Bakr,
National Security Minister Peter Bunting said in Parliament on Tuesday
that based on his attitude and his disposition, Abu Bakr was looking an
opportunity to create an incident arousing widespread controversy.

"Caribbean
Airlines could not have carried that individual back, not in the way he
was behaving." Bunting said Abu Bakr was brought on to the plane "in
shackles, fighting, creating a whole scene in the aircraft".

He
said in addition to the fact that no commercial flight would have
carried Abu Bakr given the way he was behaving, few private jets would
have transported him.

Bunting said he has no idea about who owns the jet that transported Abu Bakr.

"This
is an operational matter and ministers don't really concern themselves
with that," he said in response to a question posed by Dr Andrew
Wheatley, an opposition MP.

Bowing to pressure

But Derrick
Smith, the opposition spokesman on national security, said the
Government demonstrated weakness by bowing to pressure created by Abu
Bakr who refused to sit in the economy section of the airline.

"No
regional terrorists would force a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government
to hire a Learjet at $4 million of Jamaican people money to send him
back home. He would be at Horizon (Remand Centre) until he submits and
goes home on a commercial flight," Smith said.

Bunting, however, accused the Opposition of "majoring in the minor".

"If
you have someone here that you decide you are going to keep until he
decides to go, you will have to give him medical care; this is somebody
who was having medical issues. The cost of caring, feeding and all the
attendant costs may easily have exceeded $4 million over a period of
time," Bunting said.

"The amount of distractions in court,
security forces, et cetera. It is a case of penny wise and pound foolish
and as my colleague chairman would say, this is a case of majoring in
the minors," he added.

Chicken feed

Robert Pickersgill, senior cabinet minister, in a sotto voce comment, said the money represented "chicken feed".

Bunting said the Government acted in the interest of protecting the Jamaican people.

"You
dilly dallied for months," Bunting said to the Opposition as he pointed
to the delay in the extradition of self-confessed gangster Christopher
'Dudus' Coke to the United States.

He wondered aloud whether the
approach taken by the then JLP administration with the request for
Coke's extradition was to "keep him here until he decides he wants to
go".

"Apparently, that is a policy statement from that side as to
how they treat individuals who are threats to national security," he
added.

Bunting said the $4 million spent to deport Abu Bakr pales in comparison to billions spent dealing with the Coke matter.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com