Fri | Dec 8, 2023

Dudus still wanted - US Government will not withdraw request for Coke, but won't use power to get him extradited

Published:Wednesday | January 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Julissa Reynoso speaks during a press briefing at the United States Embassy yesterday. - Ian Allen/Photographer

The United States (US) Government is stepping up its pressure on Jamaica to sign the extradition request for west Kingston strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

A senior US State Department official yesterday made it clear that almost five months after an indictment was handed down 'Dudus' is still wanted to answer drug-trafficking charges as quickly as possible.

However, Julissa Reynoso, deputy assistant secretary for Central America and the Carib-bean, made it clear that the US would not be using its economic might to twist the arm of the Jamaican Government.

"I raise issues, we have conversations and we are all adults here, and we are sovereigns and we hope the Jamaican Government listens and takes note and we move on," Reynoso told journalists at the US Embassy in Kingston yesterday, after meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Ken Baugh and Finance Minister Audley Shaw.

Utmost importance

Reynoso, the most senior State Department official to visit Jamaica since the election of the Barack Obama administration, was on a working visit to the island, her first trip to the Caribbean since being appointed last November.

"The extradition is, as you know, an issue of utmost importance to our judicial system and to our domestic and international policies.

"We consider this individual to be a person of very high interest and we are actively engaged with the Government of Jamaica to try and make this happen as soon as possible," Reynoso said.

The Jamaican Government has so far failed to sign the extradition request, while arguing that it has more questions for the Americans to answer.

No details of those questions have been released but the Government has said it has not been provided with sufficient documentation to convince it to sign the document.

But Reynoso told journalists that the US had been diligent in puttingtogether the charges against 'Dudus'.

"As of right now, we have no intention to remove the request. We believe we have sound grounds to seek the request. We wouldn't put it forward without it. We do our due diligence quite well before we take any measures of that type."

Reynoso did not say what would be the reaction of the US if the Government fails to sign the extradition order, but she rejected claims that this was the reason the Obama administration had failed to name a new ambassador to Jamaica, almost one year after Brenda LaGrange Johnson left.

"There is no political issue here. There is none, zero, nada."

According to Reynoso, the delay is linked to the US internal administrative processes.

"With respect to the ambassador-ship, it is something that the State Department is considering right now, and looking at names and making sure that the individual is appropriate for the task. I really hope that we can have a nomination in the next couple of months," said Reynoso.

Foot dragging

She also scoffed at talks of a deterioration in the relationship between Washington and Kingston because of the Jamaican Govern-ment's foot dragging on the 'Dudus' issue.

Reynoso said her talks with Baugh and Shaw yesterday covered several topics including security, energy and the financial challenges facing Jamaica.

She said the US government was prepared to help Jamaica through the present economic crisis while maintaining the long standing warm relationship it had.

"The partnership we have with Jamaica is a very good partnership. It (Jamaica) has been a key ally. We can always use improvement."