Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
Evangelical preacher Merrick 'Al' Miller was hit with criminal charges late yesterday, 48 hours after a nationwide manhunt ended with fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke being found in his sport utility vehicle.
Miller, who pastors the high-profile Fellowship Tabernacle church in St Andrew, was charged with harbouring a fugitive and perverting the course of justice after he was questioned on Wednesday and Thursday by detectives from the Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID).
He was granted bail in the sum of $200,000 and is scheduled to face the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court next Friday.
However, Miller, who posted bail and was released from OCID's downtown Kingston offices shortly after 5 p.m., was defiant, calling his ordeal a "small price to pay for national transformation".
"We are on course for some good things in Jamaica, so absolutely no regrets, man," he told reporters before he was driven away.
An arrest warrant was out for Coke when he was captured in Miller's SUV in a police dragnet along Mandela Highway on Tuesday afternoon.
Miller, who heads the National Transformation Programme (NTP), told police on the scene that he was taking Coke to the United States Embassy in Liguanea, St Andrew, where the fugitive wanted to turn himself in.
The pastor, who thrashed out the controversy in an early-morning meeting with church leaders yesterday after being heavily criticised for his involvement, was not detained at the scene on Tuesday.
But hours later, the police issued a public notice asking him to turn himself in as "he was a major person of interest in a matter currently being investigated".
The Opposition People's National Party (PNP) broke its silence on the matter yesterday, calling for Miller to be sacked as director of the NTP, which falls under the Office of the Prime Minister.
"We are alarmed that up to now, the prime minister has not seen it prudent to dismiss the Reverend Miller from leading Jamaica's values and attitudes campaign," the PNP said in a statement.
Yesterday, Miller gave no hint that he was about to quit, telling reporters gathered outside OCID: "We just go ahead and keep on doing what we have to do.
"Truth must prevail ... . Where there are innuendoes and untruth, then those will bear themselves out in time," he added.
One of his attorneys, Leslie Campbell, criticised the police's decision to charge Miller, saying it would have serious implications for the society.
"What this is certainly doing is saying to ministers of religion and the wider public who have sought to assist the police in doing what they have failed to do that, 'Listen, you are no longer privileged to do it'," Campbell said.