Fri | Dec 14, 2018

INDECOM gets green light to search JDF HQ

Published:Tuesday | July 31, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/ Senior Gleaner Writer
Terrence Williams

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) indicated late yesterday that it was too early to determine its next move after receiving the go-ahead from the Supreme Court to execute a search warrant at the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Up Park Camp headquarters.

It was one of 14 orders handed down yesterday by the Full Court comprising Justices Courtney Daye, Sharon George and Carol Lawrence-Beswick.

The orders come 30 months after INDECOM obtained the search warrant as part of its investigations into the use of mortars during the May 2010 police-military operations in west Kingston to capture drug lord Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

INDECOM boss Terrence Williams also indicated that it was too early to determine how the more than two-year wait to resolve the legal challenge has impacted the investigation, but made it clear the probe will continue.

 

Probing whether mortars killed anyone

 

"We are hoping to determine whether anyone died as a result of the firing of mortars by the JDF, we are hoping to determine whether or not the decision to fire the mortars and the execution of that decision was lawful and proportionate," Williams told The Gleaner last night.

The army initially denied claims that mortars were used in the operations, before retired Chief of Defence Staff Major General Stewart Saunders admitted before the west Kingston commission of enquiry, that 37 mortars were fired into three open spaces in Tivoli Gardens during the operations.

More than 60 civilians and one member of the JDF were killed in the operation.

The Full Court, in its two-to-one majority decision, refused an application by the JDF to declare the probe by INDECOM "an unreasonable exercise of power" and an application that the execution of the warrant on army property "is likely to be prejudicial to the interest of the State".

The court also shot down an application by the army to quash notices that were served on key military personnel to give statements to INDECOM investigators about their roles in the 2010 operations.

"An order of prohibition to prohibit INDECOM from commencing a search [of Up Park Camp] is refused," the panel ruled in another 2-1 decision.

Lawrence-Beswick was the dissenting voice in both decisions.

The sole victory for the JDF was the unanimous decision to block INDECOM from gaining access to the operational orders that guided the west Kingston incursion.

"A declaration that information relating only to the operational orders requested in the [INDECOM] warrant set out in the certificate of the Minister of National Security dated January 13, 2016, is protected by Public Interest Immunity is granted unanimously," the judges ruled.

The court also refused the JDF's application for a declaration that its members are restricted from providing evidence on oath that reveals information in breach of the Official Secrets Act.