Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Ellington found nothing wrong with Tivoli operations - Nelson

Published:Saturday | February 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM

FORMER NATIONAL Security Minister Dwight Nelson has said that former Police Commissioner Owen Ellington never identified any weaknesses in the conduct of the May 2010 police-military operations in the west Kingston community of Tivoli Gardens.

Nelson's assertion came yesterday during cross-examination by Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) boss Terrence Williams before the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry.

"The commissioner of police, in his report to you, gave you no impression that there was anything wrong or deficient in the operations of the police in the west Kingston operations?" Williams questioned.

"He never mentioned any such opinion or observation," Nelson replied.

Nelson's testimony is in sharp contrast to that of former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who told the three-member panel chaired by Sir David Simmons that, based on his observation and reports from residents, there were "weaknesses in command and perhaps lack of supervision on the ground."

"The impression I have was that every soldier and every policeman that was there [in Tivoli Gardens during the operations] was virtually operating on his own; that there was nobody to say 'hey, no, don't do that'," Golding testified on Wednesday.


"Everybody seemed to have been exercising the full authority of the security forces without the kind oversight that I thought would have been standard within a military organisation and, no doubt, adopted within the police force," he added.

The former prime minister added: "It may be a matter that the commission may want to focus some attention on."

But Nelson, in responding to questions from the commissioner of INDECOM, said Ellington never offered any critique of the Jamaica Constabulary Force on its conduct of the operations, which was aimed at capturing then fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

"[Did he tell you of] Any areas where they could improve?" Williams pressed.

"No, Sir," the former national security minister responded.

The West Kingston Commission of Enquiry is examining, among other things, the conduct of the security forces, during the operations. An interim report by the Office of the Public Defender found that 76 civilians and one member of the Jamaica Defence Force were killed in the three-day operation.

Nelson also testified that he does not believe the security forces know, for a fact, how Coke escaped his Tivoli Gardens stronghold during the operation.

However, he said there were several theories about how Coke managed to elude law enforcement authorities.

One of those theories, he said, was that Coke never left Tivoli Gardens during the May 2010 operations.

Other theories, the former national security minister said, are that the convicted drug kingpin left his west Kingston base disguised as a female and that he left through tunnels.