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Extradition or not ... Coke is it!

Published:Sunday | March 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Tyrone Reid, Sunday Gleaner Reporter

Christopher 'Dudus' Coke will remain on the United States most-wanted list even if he is not extradited by the Jamaican authorities.

An official of the US Attorney's Office says the west Kingston strongman known as the 'President' will remain a priority for American law-enforcement agencies even if the Bruce Golding administration decides not to send him to America for trial based on the present extradition request.

"The indictment and the extradition are two separate things. The indictment is the charges against him, and the charges still stand," said Rebekah Carmichael, who is attached to the United States Attorney's public information office for the Southern District of New York.

Carmichael told The Sunday Gleaner: "The indictment still stands whether a defendant is extradited or not. The indictment continues to exist, the charges continue to exist."

As a result, Coke remains on the US Department of Justice's list of Consolidated Priority Organisation Targets, which includes the world's most dangerous narcotics kingpins.

No comment

Carmichael declined to say what measures US authorities were prepared to implement to ensure that Coke faces the court. "I would not be able to comment on that, we have no comment," she said.

She also refused to comment on the Jamaican Government's decision not to sign the request for the extradition of Coke.

At the time the indictment was issued against Coke, Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, described the charges against him as "another important step in our bringing to justice the world's most dangerous criminals, wherever they may be found".

Coke is "charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and conspiracy to illegally traffic in firearms. If convicted on the narcotics charge, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, as well as a fine of up to (US)$4 million, or twice the pecuniary gain from the offence," read a section of a release issued by the US Attorney's Office last August.

Since then, Prime Minister Bruce Golding has argued that that there is an insufficiency of credible evidence to substantiate a criminal charge against Coke, and that the other available evidence was obtained in breach of the Interception of Com-munications Act, 2002.

While the prime minister did not rule out honouring the extradition request, he argued that the Government would have to be presented with information in accordance with Jamaican law.

The Government has also asked the US authorities to disclose the name of the police officer who passed the intercepted communication to them.

Under local laws, the policeman, so far identified only as 'John Doe', was not authorised to pass the information to the US authorities and committed a criminal offence.

But so far, the Americans have refused to disclose the name of the police officer or state if he is still in Jamaica.

This has led to a stalemate, which the US argues, can be resolved by placing the extradition request before the Jamaican courts, while the Golding administration claims that both parties should sit and try to arrive at an amicable solution.