Justice Minister and Attorney General, Senator the Hon. Dorothy Lightbourne has maintained that she followed due process in the handling of the extradition request for Christopher Coke.
She said that she did not treat the case any differently from similar extradition requests that have come before her office for consideration.
The Minister was being cross examined by People’s National Party lead attorney, K.D. Knight yesterday (March 10) on her fourth appearance before the Commission of Enquiry looking into the extradition of Coke, which is being held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
Mr. Knight drew close reference to the case of St. Ann businessman Norris Nembhard, who was extradited to the United States on drug charges in July 2008.
Mr. Nembhard had been designated a drug kingpin by the American Government.
Mr. Knight questioned Miss Lightbourne as to whether she treated the Coke matter differently, giving preferential treatment to the case and overlooking the constitutional rights of Mr. Nembhard. “I’m suggesting to you that you cared not one iota about the constitutional rights of Norris Nembhard,” he said.
“I did care, Mr. Chairman,” rebutted Miss Lightbourne.
The Justice Minister insisted that she has always given equal attention to the cases that have come before her, as she believed the constitutional rights of all Jamaican citizens were equally important.
Mr. Knight however persisted that if the Justice Minister had considered the rights of Mr. Nembhard she would have facilitated his appeal to the Privy Council.
She however told the Commission that she was not aware of Mr. Nembhard’s appeal to the Privy Council. “At the time I signed the warrant there was no application, as far as I was aware,” she said.
The Attorney General informed the Commission that some 35 extradition requests have been sent for her consideration since she took office in 2007. Of that number, she stated that she has signed 11 Authorities to Proceed.
The Minister also maintained that the wrong procedure was followed by the US in issuing the extradition request for Mr. Coke. She told the Commission that a provisional warrant should have been issued before the extradition request.
Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding is expected to testify before the Commission next week.
CONTACT: ATHALIAH REYNOLDS