Tivoli enquiry won't be complete without ballistic testing of weapons, says Mukulu
BY KARYL WALKER Editor -- Crime/Court Desk firstname.lastname@example.org
ACTING Public Defender Matondo Mukulu says ballistic testing of weapons used in the 2010 Tivoli Gardens operation must be conducted if the pending West Kingston Commission of Enquiry is to have any meaning.
Speaking to editors and reporters at the Jamaica Observer's weekly Monday Exchange yesterday, Mukulu said that while the enquiry can begin without the results of the tests, it will not be complete without it.
"Can we have an enquiry without it? No. Can we start an enquiry without it? Yes. Is it the only thing that the enquiry will be looking at? No," he said.
Mukulu's predecessor, Earl Witter, last year took issue with the fact that the report had not yet been concluded.
"It will be clear that the important issue of determining whether persons allegedly killed in the course of the Tivoli/West Kingston 'incursion' met their deaths at the hands of members of the State security forces (JCF, ISCF or JDF) or any other (such as armed combatants/illegal gunmen) can only be settled by the forensic examination of firearms. There is no evidence of visual identification of the shooters. Of course, the issue of criminal liability (in particular, whether at any material time a member or members of either force acted in self-defence or not) is altogether a different matter," Witter said in his interim report on the incursion.
Jamaica's forensic laboratory is equipped with archaic equipment and the testing methods are not up to world standards.
The troubling issue of getting the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to hand over their weapons for testing was also addressed by Mukulu.
"The Office of the Public Defender has no remit as it relates to the JDF. That is why the process of investigating the JDF is being led by INDECOM (the Independent Commission of Investigation). The Office of the Public Defender has a secondary role. Presently, INDECOM is doing its best to get the ballistics testing done. The public must know that the process is not stalled. There is a timetable and INDECOM is using that timetable," he said.
Mukulu also pointed to the urgent need for the enquiry to get under way in order to get justice for those who were wronged by agents of the State.
"People's memories fade," he said.