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'Sham enquiry' - Call off probe till ballistics reports in - Witter

Published:Tuesday | March 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Public Defender Earl Witter makes his way to the meeting room at his downtown Kingston office for a press conference yesterday.

Public Defender Earl Witter is urging the Government to call off the impending commission of enquiry into the 2010 police-military operation in Tivoli Gardens, West Kingston, because of the absence of ballistics reports.

Witter said yesterday that, without the findings of those reports, the enquiry would threaten to be nothing more than a charade.

"It would quite likely, if not undoubtedly, become a sham instead of being seen to be the most important public enquiry to be undertaken in the history of independent Jamaica or in the last 150 years, if not ever," he said yesterday during a press conference at his downtown Kingston offices.

"It is, therefore, the view of the public defender that the Government should cause the commission of enquiry that is impending not to commence any hearings whatsoever before the completion of ballistic works in accordance with binding protocol."

Witter said the veracity of what took place in Tivoli Gardens, where more than 70 people were killed as the security forces attempted to execute an arrest warrant for drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, could only be uncovered with the findings of the reports.

Who killed who

"It is only by completing the ballistics reports that we should ever be able to determine who killed who during the state of emergency, whether it be an illegal gunman, a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force or a member of the Jamaica Defence Force ... . The country and the international community needs to know who killed who," he said.

Witter added that the ballistics reports were of paramount importance, as it was unlikely that there would be any video evidence to identify who fired fatal shots.

He attributed the delay of the ballistics reports to the inability of the Independent Commission of Investigations to secure soldiers' firearms and the paucity of resources in the Government's forensic lab.