West Kingston Enquiry: Bishop Herro Blair recounts meeting with 'Dudus' in Tivoli
Former Political Ombudsman Bishop Herro Blair this morning recounted two meetings with drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke inside his Tivoli Gardens stronghold less than a week before the start of the May 2010 operations in the west Kingston community.
Testifying before the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry, Blair said the meetings were aimed at convincing Coke to surrender to Jamaican law enforcement authorities.
Coke was being sought at the time on an extradition warrant from United States authorities.
Blair gave evidence that when he entered Tivoli Gardens for the first meeting on May 19, 2010 he saw more than 50 men armed with firearms and confirmed telling then Police Commissioner Owen Ellington afterwards: "I have never seen so many guns in my life".
Blair said he first went into Tivoli Gardens after getting the approval of then Prime Minister Bruce Golding and Opposition spokesman on national security Dr Peter Phillips.
He said after getting approval, he telephoned someone in Tivoli Gardens to make contact with Coke.
According to him, he went into the west Kingston community under the escort of his "contact" who had arranged the meeting.
He said he waited for "some time" before Coke appeared in the room where he was waiting.
"He (Coke) seemed cool, calm and collected. The level of fear that was over me when I was going in was somewhat alleviated," he testified before the west Kingston commission of enquiry this morning.
Blair said during the near two-hour meeting he implored the Tivoli Gardens don to surrender to authorities and have the gunmen seen in the community disarmed.
He said Coke, in his response, indicated that his legal team had filed a motion in court and that he would await the outcome of that process.
In fact Blair says during both meetings the drug kingpin refused to surrender, indicating that he was fearful that he would not get "a free trial" and that he could suffer the same fate as his father, Lester Lloyd Coke, more popularly known as Jim Brown.
The elder Coke died in a fire at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, which at the time was known as the General Penitentiary.
"He said his father was killed by the Jamaican State, but there has been no explanation," Coke recounted.