KINGSTON – Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Senator Hon. Dorothy Lightbourne, on Friday March 11 remained adamant that she had faithfully carried out her ministerial duties in the handling of the extradition request for Christopher "Dudus" Coke.
She maintained, even under intense cross examination from People's National Party lead attorney K.D. Knight, that she executed her responsibilities appropriately, with close consideration of the Constitution of Jamaica, the rights of the citizen in question, and the rights of the Jamaican people.
The Minister was making her fifth appearance before the Commission of Enquiry looking into the extradition of Coke, which is being held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
Despite the insistence of Mr. Knight, the Justice Minister was resolute that she was not only faithful in upholding the Constitution of Jamaica, but that she remained faithful to the statutes of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and the Extradition Act, in her handling of the request.
“Do you maintain that you carried out your ministerial responsibilities appropriately and faithfully and to the letter of the statute?” pressed Mr. Knight.
“Yes, I did,” answered the Attorney General. “I carried it out faithfully to the Constitution, to my duties as Attorney General, to the public interest, to the MLAT and to the citizen,” she maintained.
Senator Lightbourne reiterated that despite her strong belief that there was insufficient evidence to sign the Authority to Proceed for the extradition of Coke, she did so in the interest of public good.
“Every organisation in this country was asking for me to sign the Authority to Proceed and for the citizen to be put before the court. The society was breaking down, and so, I considered his Constitutional rights against the public interest, under Section 13 of the Constitution, as I felt it my duty at the time to do,” the Minister stated.
The Justice Minister said her duty, under Section 8 of the Extradition Act, is to see that there is sufficient evidence that a magistrate could commit the accused to stand trial for the offence.
“My considerations are to look at the legal issues, to look at the evidence and to look at the whole circumstances of what is before me, to say if this person should be committed to stand trial,” she explained.
The Attorney General earlier stated that although there was not enough evidence to sign the Authority to Proceed, excluding the wiretap evidence, which she believed was obtained illegally, she gave the go ahead nonetheless with the hope that the case would be put before the courts.
The Enquiry is slated to continue on Monday (March 14), when Senator Lightbourne is expected to be further cross examined.
CONTACT: ATHALIAH REYNOLDS