JIS News

Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding has received a written report from the police on their investigations into the circumstances surrounding the arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport of a private chartered aircraft from Cuba on Thursday night, May 14.
The investigations have revealed the following:
(1) Prior to the landing of the aircraft, security officials received information that a quantity of foreign currency was concealed in a secret compartment of the aircraft. The information did not include any reference to the identity of the passengers.
(2) A search of the aircraft was conducted in the presence of the crew after it landed and after the passengers had disembarked and proceeded to Immigration and Customs at the General Aviation Centre (private wing) of the airport. No foreign currency was found on the aircraft.
(3) The passengers were processed and departed the airport without incident or interruption.
(4) During and even after the processing of the passengers had been completed, information was circulated among members of the Customs Contraband Enforcement Team (CET) who were not physically present at the General Aviation Centre where the aircraft had landed to the effect that:
(a) a former Prime Minister and a number of diplomats carrying diplomatic passports were among the passengers;
(b) a scan of diplomatic baggage suggested that it contained a large quantity of bank notes;
(c) the diplomats had objected to the baggage being opened and searched and had opted to re-board the aircraft and depart.
The Police investigations have not been able to determine the source or origin of this information which has been proven to be erroneous.
(5) The information was reported to a senior CET officer who was not present at the airport. He contacted a senior officer in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions who, in turn, engaged the Solicitor-General by conference call to seek guidance as to how the matter should be treated, given the purported diplomatic status of some of the passengers and baggage. Advice was given based on the information that was presented. By this time, the passengers and crew had been processed and had left the airport.
The report noted that the incident has revealed weaknesses in the established airport interdiction procedures which require collaboration among all relevant authorities and establishes clear direction and a chain of command to ensure that information is properly evaluated and the appropriate course of action clearly defined. This is essential to ensure that security interventions are not occasioned by misinformation or mischief. The Commissioner of Police is taking action to reinforce these procedures and ensure compliance.
The police will be submitting a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a determination of whether the authorities of the relevant agencies were influenced by public mischief and whether criminal or disciplinary proceedings should be instituted.

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