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Bruce didn't trust JDF - Golding sought US aid in verifying Tivoli claims of abuse by soldiers

Published:Thursday | May 9, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Former prime minister, Bruce Golding
Soldiers on patrol in Tivoli Gardens in 2010. - File
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Correspondence between United States government officials have indicated that former Prime Minister Bruce Golding three years ago alluded to a trust deficit with army officials after soldiers descended on Tivoli Gardens, West Kingston, to nab notorious area don Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

Instead of resorting to the leadership of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) for information, Golding reportedly opted to rely on the foreign forces for information on allegations that the military, operating within his defence portfolio, was perpetrating atrocities on the people of Tivoli Gardens during the May 2010 incursion.

Information has emerged that Golding was aware of mounting allegations of murder and rape two days after an arrangement for Coke to surrender to local authorities collapsed and soldiers swarmed the community.

In correspondence dated May 25, 2010 - the second day of the incursion, then United States Embassy chargé d'affaires, Isiah Parnell, stated that he was summoned to Golding's office before the prime minister rushed off to a Cabinet meeting without communicating with him.

"He (Golding) asked the foreign affairs minister (Dr Kenneth Baugh) to express his concerns about reports they were getting about massive misuse of force by the JDF within Tivoli," wrote Parnell. "FM (the foreign affairs minister) said that they heard that non-combatants were being summarily shot and women raped."

The email was among several accessed through the US Freedom of Information Act by American journalist Mattathias Schwartz.

Added Parnell: "He said they could not trust the reports by the JDF that these illegal activities were not taking place and asked if we had any information on the matter."

Golding had reportedly, on May 24 and 25, been bombarded with calls from residents of Tivoli Gardens as well as a prominent female parliamentarian who alleged that the people of the community were being brutalised by members of the military during the operation to nab Coke.

The Government has signalled that a commission of enquiry into the operations will be conducted in order to ferret out the truth.

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com