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West Kingston Enquiry: 'Proud' JDF officer believes mortars saved lives

Published:Thursday | December 3, 2015 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

The use of mortars during the May 2010 police-military operations in Tivoli Gardens saved lives.

That was the assertion made this morning by Major Warrenton Dixon, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) officer tasked with supervising the use of the explosives.

Dixon, like retired JDF Chief of Defense Staff Major General Stewart Saunders, told the west Kingston commission of enquiry, that a total of 37 mortar rounds were fired during the operations with the objectives of keeping women and children indoors and disorientate armed thugs who were engaging members of the security forces in fierce firefights.

More than 70 civilians and one member of the JDF were killed during the operations, aimed at capturing drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

"It's unfortunate that 70-odd persons lost their lives in there, but I believe strongly in my heart that the use of the mortars saved a lot of lives and I am proud of it," Dixon testified.

He was responding to a suggestion by Lord Anthony Gifford, attorney for the Office of the Public Defender (OPD), that the use of the mortars did not meet the objectives set out by the army "and the whole idea of it failed".