MILITARY and police personnel Friday said that copies of the extradition documents filed by the United States Government against Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke were found in his Presidential Click office in Tivoli Gardens after the community was secured by the authorities.
At the same time, they painted Coke as a coward who, after importing at least 400 gunmen from outside Tivoli to fight in his defence, fled the community shortly after the security forces began their operation last Monday to arrest him and restore order to the area.
On Friday, two attorneys with whom the Sunday Observer shared the information about the documents expressed surprise, as they said it was not the practice for the subject of an extradition to be in possession of the papers supporting that request.
“It would be very unusual,” said one of the attorneys, whom the Sunday Observer will not name.
“My antennae would go up on getting that information,” said the other lawyer who explained that extradition documents would only be shared with the subject’s attorney after the subject was arrested.
The first attorney also questioned the Judicial Review filed by Coke’s lawyers in relation to Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne’s decision to sign the extradition request, a move that would put Coke before a Resident Magistrate to determine whether he has a case to answer in the US.
The US Government indicted Coke on arms and drugtrafficking charges last August but the Jamaican Government had refused to sign the document to begin the extradition process.
The Judicial Review is scheduled to come before the High Court tomorrow. Coke’s lawyers are arguing that the minister had contended for the past nine months that the US had illegally obtained wire-tap information against their client.
“The reason given for the challenge at this stage is highly unusual,” said the attorney.
According to members of the security forces, they also found other sensitive documents relating to the extradition in Coke’s office, from which he ran his entertainment company.
They declined to reveal more but were obviously peeved at the discovery which suggested that Coke was the beneficiary of assistance from influential circles.
On Friday, the security officials confirmed an Observer report last week that Coke was paying gunmen from outside Tivoli to help fight the security forces who were intent on executing an arrest warrant on the man for whom hundreds of Tivoli residents — mostly women — staged a peaceful street protest two weeks ago, urging the authorities to leave him alone and declaring that they were willing to die for him.
Last Tuesday, the Observer had reported that Coke — a supporter of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party — was said to be paying members of criminal gangs aligned to the Opposition People’s National Party up to $100,000 per day to wreak havoc in sections of Kingston as gunmen loyal to the Tivoli Gardens don sought to prevent his arrest.
On Friday, police and military officials said that the information they received was that 400 gunmen were imported into Tivoli ahead of the security forces’ operation.
As confirmation of the accuracy of that information, the authorities on Friday pointed to the fact that many of the 500 men detained during the operation were unable to give an address in Tivoli.
Of the 500, only eight are still in detention, Deputy Commissioner of Police Charles Scarlett told the Sunday Observer yesterday.
According to Scarlett, the remaining detainees have been identified as being wanted for a number of crimes, including murder and larceny.
Scarlett also rubbished a claim being made on the streets that Coke was escorted by cops out of Tivoli during the police/military operation.
“That’s just a part of the propaganda machinery designed to affect the credibility of the security forces,” he told the Sunday Observer.
On Friday, military personnel said they suspected that Coke fled Tivoli Gardens as early as 4:00 pm on Monday, a few hours after the operation began.
“I got the feeling, based on the level of resistance, that he had left somewhere about that time,” said one army spokesman. He said that by the following day he was convinced that Coke had abandoned his fighters as the resistance had reduced significantly.