Enquiry will proceed - Golding
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
Blasting the Parliamentary Opposition, following its call for the scrapping of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry, Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding said the truth of the May 2010 event "will be told and the enquiry will proceed".
"Now, the JLP is saying we must stop it because the money is too much. To my mind, that is a position of raw political convenience because they do not want to come to the enquiry and have the truth told," a strident Golding slammed the Opposition during Wednesday's Jamaica House briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister.
The justice minister said the idea of a commission of enquiry did not come from the ruling party, but from the public defender's interim report which called for a judicial enquiry into the deaths of 76 persons and a soldier in West Kingston in the wake of an operation by the security forces to serve a warrant on drug lord Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.
"We are not seeking any political mileage out of it, as you can see from what has happened over the past week. It has become a source of comment in the public media about the cost," Golding charged.
"It was a very difficult recommendation to resist. If you read that report, this is a matter that needs to be thoroughly looked into," Golding said, adding that if the Government had failed to establish an enquiry, it would have been justifiably criticised.
Commenting on the cost for the enquiry, Golding said the Government had set a ceiling of $244 million for those directly engaged by the financial secretary to provide services for the enquiry.
He said the police and the military have engaged legal counsel to represent them which would cost the Government another $100 million.
Golding said the average hourly rates charged by the commissioners and other staff were not significantly higher than those paid to persons who presided over both the FINSAC and Manatt, Phelps and Phillips commissions of enquiry.
He said the chairman of the enquiry Justice Sir David Simmons had been accustomed to charging substantially more than the amount he charged for this enquiry. "We got him down to a figure which is in line with what the chairman of the FINSAC and the chairman of the Manatt enquiry charged, in terms of average rates," he added.