Spine-chilling finds in Tivoli

• Shallow graves with bodies • Suspected torture chamber

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, June 05, 2010

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THE gruesome discovery by the security forces of shallow graves — one with the body of a person who was buried standing — and a suspected torture chamber was yesterday shared with journalists covering the ongoing search of Tivoli Gardens more than a week after gunmen engaged the authorities in three days of clashes that resulted in the deaths of 73 persons, among them a soldier.



Jamaica Defence Force soldiers told the Observer that they stumbled upon the graves during a search of an area in the community called Rasta City, located off McKenzie Drive.



“The area is believed to be a location where thugs would dump and bury the bodies of persons killed in the community of Tivoli Gardens,” one soldier told the Observer yesterday.
At least six shallow graves were observed by this reporter in a clearing surrounded by thick, overgrown vegetation which made the trek to the spot difficult.

“Look at this,” one soldier said, pointing to a hole with the remains of the person who was buried standing.

The soldiers speculated that the person was buried alive.

The strong stench of dead flesh rose from the ground in the area where the soldiers also said they found the decomposed body of a man buried in another shallow grave in an old, abandoned train car.

Yesterday, police and soldiers also showed journalists what they believe was a torture chamber in a section of Tivoli called Java.

“The ‘chamber’ is an area where we believe people were dragged to and then tried in informal court sessions by thugs,” one member of the security forces said.

A soldier, who declined to give his name because he was not authorised to speak, showed reporters two small buildings from where the authorities suspected that death sentences were handed down.

“The man them [criminals] even had two gavels used in the informal court,” said one soldier.

A blood-stained metal baseball bat, two lengths of rope, each tied in a noose at the top of a door jam were seen in the suspected torture chamber. Sections of the floor were covered with thick lumps of partially dried blood. The stench of urine hung heavily in the air.

“The find has pushed us even closer to the conclusion that the area was a highly organised criminal den,” said one cop.

“The man them even have medical facility in the area,” added one soldier. “Our information is suggesting that this is where criminals who are injured in battle could go for treatment.”

Yesterday, Tivoli residents denied knowledge of the alleged ‘torture chamber’ or the shallow graves.

“Is lie them telling, nothing don’t go so,” said one woman who was among a large group gathered in front of the temporary office set up in the community by the public defender.

“Yu nuh see is mek them meking up the stories. Me live here how long and me nuh know of that,” said another woman.

The women declined to give their names.

Some of the residents charged that it was the police who had buried the bodies of young men who were killed in the stand-off between the security forces and gunmen loyal to Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke who is now on the run and who is wanted by the United States Government to face gun- and drug-trafficking charges.

However, the police countered the residents’ claim, saying that the decomposed state in which several of the bodies were found was clear evidence that they were killed by men in the area days before the security forces entered on May 24.

The security forces entered Tivoli to execute an arrest warrant on Coke and to restore stability to the community after gunmen barricaded all entrances and launched unprovoked and co-ordinated gun attacks on the police in West Kingston and other sections of the city. Two policemen were killed in one of those attacks on Mountain View Avenue the night before the security forces stormed Tivoli.

  


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