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EDITORIAL - Come clean on Coke

Published:Sunday | February 12, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Among the unresolved issues in the Christopher Coke extradition saga is how, and with whose help, he escaped the military dragnet around Tivoli Gardens and was able to stay at large for a month.

As a narcotics dealer and gunrunner with the bonus of 'legitimate' enterprises, Coke had not only his militia, but financial resources and political connections. It has long been rumoured that Coke was still able to leverage those connections even after the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration ended its stonewalling of America's demand for his extradition.

But at the height of the events of May and June 2010, government officials gave short shrift to any such suggestion. It seems, to us, though, that it is time for these issues to be revisited and for an honest and frank accounting.

Last Friday, this newspaper quoted residents in a community near to a government protocol house near Claremont in the parish of St Ann as observing unusual and suspicious activity at the house around the time the search was on for Coke. At least one person reported having spotted someone resembling Coke. Other sources, whose intelligence capacities are not easily discounted, have raised the possibility of Coke having hidden out in a facility like the one at Claremont.

That Coke was at large, and being hunted by the security forces, was no secret; it was so, and notoriously known to be so. It is an obvious and reasonable question, therefore, as to why persons who may have noticed suspicious activity at the Claremont protocol house did not report their observations to the security forces.

talk can lead to trouble

On this score, one resident resorted to the old Jamaican proverb that is it not all that is good to eat is worth talking about - or more plainly, talking can lead to trouble.

Arthur Williams, a Cabinet minister during the Coke affair and now the JLP's spokesman, has rejected that Coke was set up in a government safe house as "absolute rubbish".

Moreover, the Ministry of Mining and Energy, which controls the Claremont property, says no one occupied the house between January 2009 and last December. That, however, is according to its official records.

At the very least, the report by this newspaper should have stimulated the police to re-engage the Coke case, if ever it slipped off the agenda. For a notorious criminal to have, for so long, eluded a dragnet of the magnitude employed by the security forces should be a matter of concern for the police and the defence forces, for which they should want explanation - even if only to inform future strategy and tactics.

But there is also the larger issue of what help Coke might have had and the role of this help in the perversion of the course of justice. It would be bad enough if he had any such help, but of greater perversity if that help was from the actors of the State, using its resources. We expect the police to speak to this issue.

At the same time, we would hope the Rev Al Miller, in whose custody Coke was eventually captured, tells the truth about where he collected Coke. Rev Miller can have nothing to hide since, as he has said, he was merely transporting Coke to the US Embassy to turn himself in - albeit to a foreign jurisdiction.

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