Devon Dick | Dudus revisited by Dr Paul Ashley
Recently, Dr Paul Ashley, attorney-at-law and political commentator, published Dudus: The Extradition of Jamaica's #1 Drug Don, which recounts the "machinations of the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) to delay and frustrate the extradition of Jamaica's premier drug lord, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke."
To achieve that goal, Ashley went to primary sources and published transcripts from both the Manatt, Phelps and Phillips and West Kingston commissions of enquiry.
There are such documents scattered over the seven chapters. Ashley provides an overview of this watershed 2010 event then examines the confidentiality breach, the delays and tactics, the machinations of both the governments of Jamaica and USA, and finally, the escape and capture of Dudus, who was wanted to answer charges for drugs and firearm trafficking.
In this work, Ashley shares his disappointment with some of the findings of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry, including not stating who 'tipped off' Dudus.
Ashley stated that Dudus was obviously 'tipped off' not by direct communication between Coke and any official of the GOJ ,but through surrogates using coded messages. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the commission on the matter of the extradition papers found in Coke's office, calling the conclusion "drivel".
However, he appeared to support the finding of the commission. "We find that the delay in the signing of the Authority to Proceed significantly contributed to the breakdown in law and order in May 2010."
Ashley outlined that the interceptions of Coke's conversations, though approved by a Supreme Court, were violated, in that it they were given to unauthorised persons.
In addition, he presented the counterargument that there was enough evidence save and apart from the contaminated evidence. Furthermore, the local courts could determine whether a prima facie case was made against Coke.
There are Golding's famous words, "If I have to pay a political price for it, I am going to uphold a position that the constitutional rights do not begin at Liguanea." It would have been good for Ashley to ascertain from Golding whether the price was worth it. There is also Golding's 'threat' to Dorothy Lightbourne, then minister of justice: 'If a minister, having examined it, recognises that it is supported by evidence that was unlawfully obtained, disclosed or used, but still proceeds to sign it, she should immediately sign one other document - her resignation."
Ashley does not mention the role of popular pastor Al Miller in the capture of Coke. Also absent is a foreword of endorsement of this book or a picture of the author.
Ashley concludes that what transpired "represents the most formidable challenge to Jamaican statecraft".
He is concerned that things have not changed and perhaps Jamaicans have not learnt the lessons of the past, claiming that "the underlying features of the Jamaican reality - the depen-dency of a small state in the shadow of US hegemony, the inadequacy of the police force, the relative autonomy of the army and political garrisons umbilically tied to the major political parties - remain intact".
Ashley quotes from a confidential memorandum the reflections of Stewart Saunders, then head of the JDF, who is now doing a commendable job in crime fighting in St Kitts.
Saunders said the capture of Coke "would have been effected with the minimum loss of life, if any at all ... perceived political expediency resulted in disloyalty to the nation. The process of initiating, implementing and concluding an extradition request must prevent such recurrences ... ."
Ashley has made his case in this easy-to-read and informative book, but is the argument done, and have lessons been learnt by Jamaicans?
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete' and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.