UPDATE: Court grants JDF leave to challenge HQ search by INDECOM
Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer
High Court judge Bryan Sykes has granted leave to the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to seek a judicial review challenging a warrant obtained by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) to search its Up Park Camp headquarters.
The warrant is to allow for INDECOM to search the JDF base for mortars and information related to their use during the 2010 police-military operations in Tivoli Gardens.
Before INDECOM could execute the warrant, JDF attorneys went to court seeking to block the search.
Justice Bryan Sykes heard the matter in Chambers and ruled a short while ago that the JDF could take the matter to the Judicial Review Court.
A stay of execution has also been granted pending the outcome of the matter.
The JDF is contending that there is no need for a search of its headquarters because a Commission of Enquiry is being conducted into 2010 police-military operations and it has been cooperating.
Despite claims by several residents of Tivoli Gardens that they heard "bombs" during the May 2010 operations to capture drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, the JDF initially rebuffed the claims.
However, testifying before the Sir David Simmons-chaired tribunal, former JDF Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Stewart Saunders acknowledged that he ordered the use of mortars and that a total of 37 were fired in three open spaces in the west Kingston community.
Stewart and JDF Mortar Control Officer Major Warrenton Dixon defended the use of the mortars saying there were used to create a diversion for gunmen who were engaging members of the security forces in fierce firefights and to keep women and young children in-doors and out of harms way.
"It's unfortunate that 70-odd persons lost their lives in there, but I believe strongly in my heart that the use of the mortars saved a lot of lives and I am proud of it," Dixon testified last month.