PRIME Minister Bruce Golding yesterday rejected a suggestion that he had tipped off former Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke about the pending request for his extradition.
Golding testified during cross-examination at the Dudus/Manatt Commission of Enquiry yesterday that on the afternoon of October 29, 2007 he was informed by the then US ambassador to Jamaica that an extradition request would be coming for Coke.
According to a transcript of a telephone call that was read by attorney Patrick Atkinson (representing the People’s National Party’s Dr Peter Phillips) at the Commission, Coke, by 7:29 that evening, informed his co-accused that an extradition request was on its way for him (Coke). Coke, according to the document read by Atkinson, said that the person who gave him the information did not relay to him the details of the indictment.
The information forms part of an affidavit of a co-operating witness in the drug and gunrunning case against Coke in a New York court.
“So at 7:29 pm on October 29, 2007, few hours after the US ambassador spoke to you about this oncoming indictment, Mr Coke is on the phone discussing his knowledge [of the pending extradition request]. Any comment on that, Mr Golding?,” Atkinson asked.
“I have no comment to make on that,” Golding responded, before Atkinson quipped, “[Was it] a coincidence?”
“I can’t say,” said Golding. “And I don’t know where that information, if what is being said there is correct, I don’t know where that information would have come from.”
“It is coming from co-operating witness number one,” said Atkinson, prompting Golding to ask if the witness was speaking to Coke from Jamaica or the United States, as the location was important. But Atkinson retorted that what was important was Coke’s knowledge of the indictment.
“And it would be a mere coincidence that on the same day that the United States ambassador was telling you about this indictment, a few hours later Prezi is saying that somebody told him?” asked Atkinson.
“Mr Chairman,” Golding said, pausing briefly, “I can’t speak to what has been read.”
The prime minister had earlier yesterday morning denied that he had tipped off Coke when the extradition request arrived on August 25, 2009; and questioned who former police commissioner Hardley Lewin may have told about the request when it arrived prior to briefing him (Golding) and Security Minister Dwight Nelson. Golding, who spent his last day on the stand yesterday, also denied a suggestion that the legal questions concerning additional evidence, the names of confidential witnesses and questions about the Memoranda of Understanding between the US and Jamaica “were all red herrings” designed to cover up the real reason for the delay in signing the authority to proceed with the extradition process against Coke.
Meanwhile, Golding said he did not know how the extradition document found its way into Coke’s Tivoli Gardens office. The document was found during the May 2010 operation by the security forces. He said the document did not come from any Government member and that no one from the Jamaica Labour Party had access to the document.
At the same time, Golding refused to withdraw an earlier claim he had made that Isiah Parnell, the charge d’affaires at the United States Embassy in Kingston, had been harassing Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne over the request, despite being informed by Atkinson that harassment by telephone was a criminal offence in the US.
The next sitting of the enquiry is next week Friday, the deadline for attorneys to submit their written submissions. No further evidence is expected so far.