JIS News

Minister with Responsibility for Information and Telecommunications, Hon. Daryl Vaz, has said that the Government will seek to prevent a repeat of the controversial incident in which a private aircraft with several passengers, including former Prime Minister the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, was searched on arrival from Cuba on Thursday night (May 14).
The aircraft landed at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and was searched by security officials, acting on information that a quantity of foreign currency was concealed aboard. The search failed to yield any hidden currency.
This was stated in a report submitted to Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding, outlining the sequence of events, which was released by Jamaica House on Wednesday (May 20). According to Jamaica House, the police report indicated weaknesses in established airport interdiction procedures, requiring collaboration among relevant authorities.
The statement said that Police Commissioner Hardley Lewin will be taking action to reinforce the procedures and ensure compliance. It also said that the police will be submitting a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to determine whether “authorities of the relevant agencies” were influenced by public mischief, and whether criminal proceedings should be pursued.
Speaking at Wednesday’s Post Cabinet media briefing at Jamaica House, Mr. Vaz said that, while the security forces receive regular reports of occurrences at the island’s air and seaports, some of them end up being erroneous, reiterating the need to strengthen collaboration between the agencies involved.
“Any issue like this, that involves a former Prime Minister and major investors in Jamaica, ought to be taken seriously. As such I would expect that, if the police have any information, that they will act on it and make sure that it is carried through to get the advice of the DPP,” Mr. Vaz said.
Water and Housing Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, who was acting as Prime Minister when the incident took place, told the briefing that the police expressed an interest in the aircraft, but not the passengers.
“Nobody implied that Mr. Patterson was part of any conspiracy; that was rumor. The police was very clear that they had an interest in the plane,” Dr. Chang stated.
Mr. Vaz said the review by the Commissioner could possibly include legal advice and clarifications on how to handle such situations, and others that may arise from time to time.
“We have seen what has happened, and we are making sure to put in place provisions for any repeat of any such type of incident with the type of persons involved,” he said.

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