Golding defends role in `Dudus’ affair

(Go Jamaica) The Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding has dismissed suggestions that he had got entangled in the Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke extradition matter, because the fugitive was an influential figure in the West Kingston constituency that he represents.

Pressed by K.D. Knight, the lawyer representing the People’s National Party (PNP) about the motive for his involvement in the Coke extradition matter, Golding told the Manatt-Dudus commission of enquiry that it was the first time in his experience that his hands were forced by any extradition request.

The Prime Minister said he was the second person (after Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne) in the executive that had been informed of the extradition request in August 2009 (by former Police Commissioner Rear Admiral Hardly Lewin).

“This was the first time that this was happening…my involvement was to seek the earliest possible resolution of the matter,” Golding declared.

However, Knight maintained that Golding had got involved even before Lightbourne had formally expressed concern about a diplomatic stalemate with the US Government.

“There is no basis that you could conclude that the US Government knew of the issue prior to September 18, 2009,” suggested Knight.

The Prime Minister disagreed, saying that concerns surfaced out of telephone discussion with the charge d’ affaires of the United States Embassy Isaiah Parnell.

Golding said the kind of pressure and inferences that drawn because of Christopher Coke’s involvement. “Because he was from the constituency that I represented a great of deal of focus was on me.

In response to Knight’s suggestion that his involvement would have given the matter a political flavor, Golding said it was an option he chose to make.

“I did not feel that the dialogues taking place with local US officials would have secured an early resolution and that was later validated,” Golding said.

Knight then asked: “In hindsight would it have been best to distance yourself from the (extradition) request?’

Golding: ‘No.”

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