Retired Chief of Defence Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Major General Stewart Saunders, on Thursday February 10 told the Commission of Enquiry into Christopher Coke’s extradition, that his involvement in the initial stages was minimal.
Mr. Saunders said he was informed of an impending extradition request by then Commissioner of Police, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, on August 24, 2009. He accompanied the Commissioner to the office of the Minister of National Security, Senator Hon. Dwight Nelson, to inform him that an official request would be coming from the United States Embassy.
“The Honourable Minister instructed me to proceed to the Prime Minister at Vale Royal and to brief him accordingly,” he said. The Major General said he then visited Vale Royal, where he spoke with the Prime Minister.
Under cross examination by Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Attorney, Frank Phipps, Major General Saunders testified that he would not have normally been involved in the extradition process at that early stage, had it not been for the invitation from Rear Admiral Lewin.
Chief Legal Adviser to the Chief of Defence Staff, JDF, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Cole, also gave evidence on Thursday. Lt. Col. Cole said that he became involved with the issue, when he visited the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for information, in order to brief the Chief of Defence Staff.
He said that the Chief of Defence Staff had informed him on the morning of August 25 that the request was in the pipeline. He was later informed that it could be received on the August 25. He left the DPP’s office, after being told that the request had not yet been officially received.
CONTACT: ATHALIAH REYNOLDS