Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Opposition says Bunting was compelled to act when he issued immunity certificates

Published:Monday | April 16, 2018 | 6:11 PM
Peter Bunting ... issued certificates of immunity to three soldiers in 2016.

The Opposition has issued a release saying former National Security Minister Peter Bunting was compelled to act when he issued certificates of immunity to the three Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers charged in the Keith Clarke murder.

Last week, the murder trial was halted after defence attorney Paul Beswick surprised Supreme Court judge Glen Brown with the certificates of immunity.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn questioned the validity of the certificates saying they were issued six years after Clarke's 2010 murder.

IN PHOTO: Keith Clarke

Brown later concurred with Beswick that the Home Circuit Court was not the appropriate body to hear concerns about the certificates of immunity and adjourned the matter until September 17.

In adjourning the matter, he said any of the interested parties could take the issue over the certificates to the Full Court.

Meanwhile, Opposition spokesperson on justice Senator Donna Scott Mottley said Bunting merely certified that the soldiers were acting in good faith and within the scope of the mission of the security forces under the 2010 state of emergency in which Clarke was killed by soldiers during an operation at his Kirkland Close, St Andrew home.

"It was at the instance of the Bruce Golding government, which includes at least nine current cabinet ministers that Parliament brought into effect the Emergency Powers (No. 10) Regulations of 2010," Scott Mottley said.

IN PHOTO: Donna Scott Mottley

She said section 45 (1) of the regulations gave immunity from prosecution to any member of the security forces for “acts done in good faith in the exercise of (their) functions for public safety.”

Senator Scott Mottley said it was incontrovertible that Clarke’s death occurred during a security forces operations involving military intelligence and equipment, including helicopters, lorries and personnel carriers and that the three JDF officers charged are of low rank.

At the time Dwight Nelson was the National Security Minister.   

IN PHOTO: Dwight Nelson

Scott Mottley asserted that the DPP’s ruling that the soldiers should be charged came after the change of government in 2011. 

"It is only because of this that Mr Bunting became involved and certified that the acts of the soldiers charged were done in good faith in the exercise of their functions as members of the security forces for public safety, the restoration of order, the preservation of peace and in the public interest as required by the 2010 regulations," she said.

Scott  Mottley further said neither Bunting nor any Minister can grant immunity from criminal charges, as only the law of the country can.

She also said only the DPP can end criminal prosecutions. 

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