The United States Department of Justice has welcomed the Government’s decision to sign the extradition request for West Kingston strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
“We are pleased with the decision to instruct the attorney general to proceed with the extradition process,” Laura E. Sweeney of the Office of Public Affairs of the US Department of Justice told The Gleaner yesterday. But Sweeny refused to offer any further information. “I can’t comment beyond the statement I provided as the department doesn’t discuss specific matters of mutual legal assistance,” Sweeney said.
Kingston and Washington have been at odds since last September when an indictment was unsealed in the Manhattan Federal Court charging Coke with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and cocaine and conspiracy to illegally traffic firearms.
The US formally requested, through diplomatic channels, that Coke be extradited to answer the charges while stating that it would be relying on cooperating witnesses and wiretap information provided by an unidentified member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. But in a diplomatic note dated September 18, 2009, the Jamaican Government sought additional information, including the identity of the cooperating witnesses, other evidence provided to the Grand Jury and independent evidence, including information on whether Coke had ever visited the US.
Jamaica sought information
Just over one month later (October 30, 2009), the Jamaican Government also requested information on how the US received the wiretap information which, although authorised by the local courts, was to have been presented to a specified set of individuals, not including the American authorities. With that data not presented, the Jamaican Government argued that it could not extradite Coke as the transfer of the information by the unnamed police source was illegal and the policeman should face criminal charges locally.
With neither party budging, Washington and Kingston found themselves in a stand-off, with Prime Minister Bruce Golding arguing that the Jamaican Government was standing on principle and defending the constitutional rights of a citizen. However, on Monday night Golding hinted that his critics had played a part in causing him to adopt the position now being greeted by Washington.