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DPP says murder - Family satisfied, three soldiers ordered charged

Keith Clarke case going straight to Home Circuit Court

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2012    

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THE Clarke family has expressed satisfaction with yesterday’s ruling by the director of public prosecutions (DPP) that murder charges be brought against three soldiers for the 2010 shooting of their loved one, Keith Clarke, during the hunt for former Tivoli Gardens don Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.

“We the family are happy with the development that has taken place. The process has been long but the state at which we have reached is encouraging,” Claude Clarke, Keith’s brother, told the Jamaica Observer.

“We are encouraged also by the fact that the director of public prosecutions will be taking the case directly to the Home Circuit Court rather than go through a preliminary enquiry, which would have caused further delays. We are hopeful that in the final analysis justice will be served,” added Clarke, a former Government minister.

Clarke said the family is “happy that the matter will be given priority”.

DPP Paula Llewellyn, QC, ruled yesterday that Jamaica Defence Force lance corporals Greg Tingling and Odel Buckley and Private Arnold Henry be charged with the shooting death of the accountant at his Kirkland Heights, St Andrew home in May 2010. The men were members of a joint police/military team that was searching for Coke, who was held the following month along the Mandela Highway in St Catherine and extradited to the US.

Clarke’s killing drew condemnation across the island and triggered calls for those responsible to be held accountable.

Yesterday’s ruling comes two months after the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) on May 11 submitted the files from its investigation into the killing to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for a ruling. A two-year wait for an outstanding ballistic report had been delaying INDECOM’s submission of the files to the ODPP.

Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said in a release yesterday that arrangements were being made with the JDF to have the men charged and brought before the court.

The DPP has said that preliminary hearings in the Resident Magistrate’s Court will be bypassed and that the matter will be taken straight to the Home Circuit Court where the men will eventually be tried.

Reacting to news of the ruling, Professor Trevor Munroe told a weekly Kiwanis luncheon at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel that, in his view, more persons should have been ordered charged in the shooting.

The Jamaica Civil Society Coalition said in a release that it expected “greater speed” going forward with the trial and added: “This ruling is a stark reminder of the long delay in answers being sought in the entire matter of the 2010 incursion in Tivoli Gardens/West Kingston and the subsequent events.”

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