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Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, began her testimony at the Commission of Enquiry into the extradition of Christopher Coke, on Thursday (March 3).

Senator Lightbourne told the Commission that on August 25, 2009 she received a telephone call from the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Lisa Palmer Hamilton, stating that Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Cole was with her and that he wished to speak with her.

"Lt. Colonel Cole came on the telephone and spoke with me, and told me that he had a request for the extradition of Christopher Coke and that he would like to come to my office with the request," Senator Lightbourne said.

"I told him that he ought not to be involved in this extradition matter, and that there was an established procedure for (how) extradition requests are dealt with and that was not the procedure that he was following," she added.

Senator Lightbourne said that she had concerns about the wiretap evidence presented by the U.S. She noted that there was no evidence of the wiretaps being used for investigative purposes, "which is what the wiretap is about, that you use it for investigative purposes rather than use it for evidence."

"So that concern jumped at me, then there were the two anonymous statements from convicted criminals who had pleaded guilty and were awaiting sentencing, and the other thing was the Constable (John Doe) who recorded the tape recordings. He just listened, recorded the conversations and merely said he was advised that the voice on the tapes was that of Mr. Coke. One of the anonymous victims had never met Mr. Coke and his statement was just hearsay; those were the main concern," she said.

The Justice Minister said she first heard of the two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) during a meeting with the United States Embassy's Charge de Affairs in Kingston, Isaiah Parnell, at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). She noted, however, that she subsequently read the documents in detail.

Senator Lightbourne said the MOUs were in breach of the Interception of Communication Act and, as such, would be unlawful and unconstitutional.

Se said that during the period of deciding whether or not to extradite Coke, the country was being destabilised, as various organisations, church groups, private sector organisations and human rights activist were in an "uproar" over the extradition issue.

She insisted that although she eventually signed the extradition order, she still felt that the request was flawed. She explained that the delay was in an attempt to get the US Government to respect Jamaica's constitutional laws.

"What I was trying to do, over all this period of time, was to ask the United States Government to respect our constitution and our laws. We are small, we are poor, but we are a sovereign state. Mr. Coke, I understand, consented, so he extradited himself; he did not test his chances here," Senator Lightbourne explained.   

Under Cross examination from Attorney, Frank Phipps Q.C., Senator Lightbourne said there was no order given by the court to 'John Doe' for any interception to be done. She also added that she has never seen any documents as to what was recorded by Mossel Jamaica Limited.

The commission of enquiry will continue on Monday (March 7) at the Jamaica Conference Centre with the testimony of Senator Lightbourne.

CONTACT: LATONYA LINTON