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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

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