Golding claims US evidence against Coke illegally obtained
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
PRIME MINISTER Bruce Golding has accused the United States (US) government of using illegally intercepted telephone conversations for the basis of drug and weapons trafficking charges against west Kingston strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
Golding, in a statement to Parliament yesterday and responding to a scathing report from the US Department of State a day earlier, declared the Jamaican Government would not extradite one of its citizens without being provided with a stronger case.
“I know that perhaps it is politically expedient to say it is Coke. Or it could have been Matthews Lane strongman Zekes (Donald Phipps),” Golding told the House of Representatives. “Or it could be any of these. I am not defending the wrongdoing of any person but, if I have to pay a political price for it, I am going to uphold a position that constitutional rights do not begin at Liguanea.”
Liguanea is the base of the US Embassy in St Andrew.
On Monday, the annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released by the US Department of State, said the handling of the August request for Coke’s extradition “marked a dramatic change in (the Jamaican Government’s) previous cooperation on extradition”.
The State Department said the delay in extraditing Coke, as well as a temporary suspension in the processing of all other pending requests, raised “serious questions” about the Jamaican Government’s commitment to combating transnational crime.
However, Golding yesterday rejected the assertion, arguing his Government could not ignore breaches in the Coke case.