Tivoli enquiry opens today
THE commission of enquiry into the 2010 Tivoli Gardens operation, which left scores of civilians and two members of the security forces dead, is set to begin today.
The hearing is to take place at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.
The commission is expected to conduct hearings in the first two weeks of December and then break until the New Year.
The commissioners are expected to compile a report and recommendations concerning the events surrounding the May 2010 West Kingston operation and submit them to the governor general within two months after concluding the enquiry.
In 2013, the Government announced that it had accepted a recommendation to establish a Commission of Enquiry into the conduct of the 2010 operation, during which more than 70 people died as the security forces tried to capture fugitive Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, who was wanted in the United States on drug and gun-running charges.
The operation was launched on May 24, 2010 after repeated appeals by the authorities for the dismantling of blockades mounted at the entrances to Tivoli Gardens were ignored.
But police and soldiers met resistance from gunmen loyal to Coke, resulting in the fatalities. During the fighting, Coke fled Tivoli Gardens, but was captured weeks later, on June 22, 2010, and waived his right to an extradition hearing.
On June 24, 2010, he was flown to New York and was eventually sentenced to a 23-year prison term in June 2012 after pleading guilty to racketeering.
Sticking to the sentencing guidelines under a plea bargaining arrangement reached between Coke’s defence team and prosecutors in August 2011, Judge Robert P Patterson imposed the maximum sentence, despite last-minute pleas for leniency by Coke himself and his attorney Stephen H Rosen.
The commission will be chaired by retired chief justice and former attorney general of Barbados Sir David Simmons. Other members of the panel are retired justice of the Court of Appeal of Jamaica Hazel Harris and Professor Anthony Harriott, director of the Institute of Criminal Justice and Security at the University of the West Indies.