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Public defender gets help from Parliament to complete Tivoli report

Wednesday, January 30, 2013    

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THE Parliament of Jamaica has provided the Office of the Public Defender with additional resources to assist with the speedy completion of the interim report into the deadly May 2010 police/military incursion in Tivoli Gardens, which has already missed several deadlines.

In a press release yesterday, the Parliament said a team -- headed by the Clerk to the Houses Heather Cooke — will closely monitor the progress to ensure that the report is completed in the shortest possible time.

The announcement followed a meeting last Friday between the Parliamentary Commission — headed by Speaker Michael Peart — and public defender Earl Witter over the "repeated missed deadlines" for the tabling of the report".

The Parliament disclosed that "based on the information provided by the public defender on the status of the report, the completion date could not be determined".

In the meantime, the commission has further decided that issues relating to the organisation of the Office of the Public Defender "will be thoroughly investigated as soon as the interim report is completed".

The public defender, who missed the latest deadline last Tuesday, has come under increased pressure with several groups, including the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party affiliate Generation 2000, calling for him to resign.

Last Friday, the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition called on the legislature to step up pressure in demanding answers from him.

More than 70 civilians were killed along with six policemen and two soldiers during the two-day stand-off between lawmen and criminals triggered by an attempt by the security forces to find and serve a warrant of arrest on former Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

Coke was finally arrested on the Mandela Highway in St Catherine a month later. He waived his right to an extradition hearing and was extradited to the US.

He is currently serving a 25-year sentence in a Federal Correctional Institute in Edgefield, North Carolina, and is scheduled to be released on July 4, 2030.

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