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Witter wants ballistics on Tivoli killings

Published:Monday | April 2, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer

Public Defender Earl Witter says the country can expect to hear from him on the outstanding ballistic reports for the more than 70 persons killed while the security forces searched Tivoli Gardens for convicted drug trafficker Christopher 'Dudus' Coke in May 2010.

Witter, in an interview with The Gleaner, said hundreds of ballistic reports are outstanding, as the government's forensic laboratory is unable to provide reports in a timely basis. He said the lab is lacking trained personnel and sufficient equipment.

The public defender said the ballistics report on Keith Clarke, who was killed by members of the security forces during the search for Coke, was prepared ahead of many others languishing in the system.

"Keith Clarke's report may well have been prepared ahead of others. As it regards the Tivoli ballistic work and how the laboratory was able to go ahead with the Keith Clarke's report, those are matters on which you can expect to hear from me in special report to the parliament which I am finalising right now," the public defender said.

Clarke, an accountant, and brother of former government minister Claude Clarke was shot several times in his Kirkland Heights home in 2010, during the search for Coke.

Limited comparison microscope

According to him, "For a very long time the backlog at the forensic laboratory has exceeded 1,000 cases. It may be as many as 2,000 now, and may or may not include those killed during the Tivoli incursion. The problem is that there are not enough comparison microscopes available."

According to Witter, "A part of the legacy of the Tivoli investigation is assistance in the training of more experts and the provision of a greater number of comparison microscopes. There was a time when there was one to deal with that backlog that I am telling you about," he stated.

He said two were recently donated to the laboratory by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which has allowed for more work to be carried out. A third, may be in train, he said.