Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Golding, others given enquiry deadline

Published:Tuesday | December 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

FORMER PRIME MINISTER Bruce Golding and three high-ranking security officials during his tenure have been given until the first week of next year to submit witness statements to the West Kingston commission of enquiry.

Failing this, informed sources say, the commission is prepared to issue summonses compelling Golding, former National Security Minister Dwight Nelson, former army chief Major General Stewart Saunders, retired Police Commissioner Owen Ellington and popular pastor, Bishop Herro Blair to appear before the enquiry and give evidence.

Garth McBean, senior legal adviser to the commission, declined to discuss the issue in detail when contacted yesterday, but confirmed that letters were dispatched to all five requesting that they submit statements between the end of this month and January 7.

The commission of enquiry, which got under way on December 1, was established to probe the conduct of members of the security forces during the May 2010 operations that were mounted to capture then fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

A preliminary report by the Office of the Public Defender stated that 76 civilians and one member of the Jamaica Defence Force died during the operations.

After more than 20 witnesses and horrifying accounts of alleged atrocities committed by members of the security forces, the enquiry is on a break and is scheduled to resume on February 9.

According to McBean, the commission's letter to Golding requested that he submit a statement "with a view of testifying".

"We want to hear what led to the calling of the state of emergency and the calling of the emergency itself - that is the focus," McBean said in reference to the limited emergency power granted to the security forces before the start of the operations.

In addition, he indicated that the commission reached out to Blair because of trips the popular clergyman made to Coke's Tivoli Gardens stronghold to encourage him to surrender to authorities and end the nationwide manhunt.

Coke is serving a 23-year prison term in the United States for racketeering.