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Bitter clashes - Knight, Lightbourne square off

Nelson challenges PNP supporters

BY PAUL HENRY Crime/Court Co-ordinator henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, March 11, 2011    

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TEMPERS flared during the Dudus/Manatt commission of enquiry yesterday afternoon, forcing an abandonment of the sitting after an apology was not forthcoming from Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne over an allegation she made earlier in the morning session that KD Knight had 30 years ago kicked a chair on which she was sitting and commented that "all Labourite fi dead".

The clash between Lightbourne and Knight was followed by a heated verbal spat between Security Minister Dwight Nelson and supporters of the Opposition People's National Party including a councillor.

The allegation by Lightbourne was made under intense cross-examination from Knight, who is representing the People's National Party (PNP), and came after Knight had made a suggestion that her action in taking so long to sign the authority to proceed with extradition proceedings against Christopher 'Dudus' Coke was one of the factors resulting in the deaths of 73 people in the May 2010 operation of the security forces in the Tivoli Gardens community.

"I do recall you telling me that all Labourite fi dead," Lightbourne said in that exchange, but the comment was not picked up by Knight, who was asked by fellow attorneys at the enquiry to ignore what was said.


It was only during the lunch break, Knight told the commission after it reconvened at 2:30 pm, that he learnt about what the minister had said — and asked for a withdrawal of the statement and an immediate apology.

"It is an egregious lie," Knight said of the allegation. "It is an evil statement and I believe probably motivated to jeopardise my security. I had never, ever said that — not as minister, not as a private citizen."

Added Knight: "When would have reason fled from me that I would make such a statement? In which brutish moment would I have said that? It is a total unmitigating lie with an evil intent."

Knight said he has had an excellent relationship with supporters of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

A brief adjournment was granted after which Lightbourne apologised to the chairman of the commission, Emil George, QC, and the commission, saying that it was inappropriate for her to raise the matter in this setting.

But Lightbourne refused to render an apology to Knight and was adamant that he had made the comment while she was at his chambers having lunch with two women, in the wake of the JLP's victory at the polls in the country's most violent general election to date.

"Since then, I have never dealt with him," explained Lightbourne, who is also Jamaica's attorney general and a Government senator.

In an attempt to quell the impasse, George adjourned the sitting for a few minutes so Knight and Lightbourne could retire to a private setting, but to no avail. The sitting was adjourned to 9:15 this morning, but Knight said there would be some difficulty proceeding without a withdrawal of the statement and an apology.

During the second adjournment for Knight and Lightbourne to work out the situation, tempers flared between PNP and JLP supporters, resulting in a shouting match, and saw a near brawl between Security Minister Dwight Nelson and PNP councillor Eugene Kelly of the Whitfield Division in South West St Andrew.

During the heated verbal sparring between the party supporters, Nelson rose from his seat waving his hand in an agitated fashion, while commenting, "I will take on anyone a you in yah so," referring to the PNP supporters.

Nelson approached a seated Kelly in a menacing fashion, asking, "You want a piece of me? You want a piece of me?" while hovering over him.

Kelly asked Nelson if he wanted to draw a gun on him but Nelson lifted his jacket and said he does not carry a firearm. A number of police officers had to rush to the area. They were seen talking to Nelson, after which a group of heavily armed police officers arrived on the scene.

Shortly after, Nelson told the Observer that his challenge to take on any of the PNP supporters was a result of provocation. He said he was trying to quell the argument between supporters of both parties when the PNP supporters started assaulting him verbally.

He refused to comment on what caused his exchange with Kelly. However, Kelly said that Nelson was upset that he asked him if he was embarrassed by the performance of his "colleague minister".

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