KINGSTON — Prime Minister, the Hon Bruce Golding, faced his final day of cross-examination on Friday (April 1), as the curtain started descending on the Commission of Enquiry into the extradition of Christopher Coke, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
Cross examined by attorney-at-law, Patrick Atkinson, representing former National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, the Prime Minister said that he was informed of the impending extradition request in October 29, 2007.
Mr. Golding said he received a call from the then United States’ Ambassador to Jamaica, who told him of that country’s plans to issue extradition papers for Coke.
“The Ambassador told me that the indictment had already been handed down by a Court in New York,” he said. Mr. Golding later told Mr. Atkinson that he could not say how Mr. Coke learned about the impending extradition request.
Reading from what, he said, were documents submitted to the Commission as evidence by the Minister of Justice, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, Mr. Atkinson told the Commission that Coke had informed an unnamed witness in October, 2007, via telephone, that he was told of the impending request.
“Mr. Chairman, I cannot speak to what was read,” said the Prime Minister to Commission Chairman, Emil George Q.C. in reference to the documents. “I’ve never actually seen that document. I don’t know who that conversation was being held with. I don’t know what the source of that information is."
The Prime Minister told the Commission that, for him to sufficiently answer questions pertaining to the source of evidence, it would have to be established when the indictment was handed down, who might have known about it and when might have that information been communicated to Mr. Coke.
“It could well have been communicated to him before the 29th of October, if that is what that (the document) is purporting to say,” he argued.
Attorney representing the Prime Minister, Hugh Small, however objected to the relevance of the line of questioning, arguing that they served no useful purpose, as not even the identity of the cooperating witness was known. He said that the telephone conversation came from documents the Justice Minister placed in evidence, because they formed part of the request for extradition.
“It’s not that she found these documents and said ‘these may be relevant’. It’s the United States of America Government who submitted the application request for extradition, using the affidavit of an unknown person,” Mr. Small argued.
The chairman later asked Mr. Atkinson what suggestion was to be drawn from his line of questioning.
“I’m making no suggestion,” Mr. Atkinson replied. “I put it to the witness and merely asked if this is a coincidence or not.”
The Prime Minister was also cross examined by attorneys-at-law Dr. Adolph Edwards, Lt. Colonel Linton Gordon and Patrick Bailey, following which the Commission was adjourned until next Friday (April 8).
At that time the Commission chairman will decide on a time for lawyers to present their final arguments. The Commissioners will submit their final report on or before May 16.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter