US happy with swift handover of Coke

THE US State Department has commended Jamaica for what it described as the swift and safe handover of alleged drug lord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke last Thursday, just hours after he waived his right to an extradition hearing.

The commendation was made during a press briefing at the White House in Washington last weekend, according to a release from the Office of the Prime Minister.

“At a recent press briefing at the White House, US Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley commended the Government of Prime Minister Bruce Golding and the Jamaican authorities for their work to support Coke’s transfer to the United States,” the release said.

Just four hours after deciding not to fight his extradition during a special sitting of the magistrate court at the Mobile Reserve headquarters along Camp Road in Kingston, Coke was flown to New York where he will face trial on gun and drug running charges.

The extradition of Coke, the former strongman of the West Kingston community of Tivoli Gardens, ended nine months of strained relations between Washington and Kingston, which was triggered by an extradition request from the US on August 25, 2009.

During that period, the ruling Jamaica Labour Party hired US law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips to lobby Washington on the issue.

The administration only relented and the authority given by Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne for extradition proceedings to commence against Coke, following sustained public outcry and calls for Golding’s resignation.

But the decision prompted intense gun battles between members of the security forces and men loyal to Coke after lawmen went into Tivoli Gardens to apprehend him on May 24.

Coke had been on the run since, before his apprehension last Tuesday along the Mandela Highway in St Catherin in the comppany of the Rev Al Miller who said he was taking Coke to the US Embassy in Liguanea, St Andrew.

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