Police patrol in Tivoli Gardens, Kingston.
A senior member of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) yesterday testified that gunmen allegedly “imported” from rural Jamaica into West Kingston to defend then-fugitive Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke were “kicked out” by residents after soldiers took control of the area.
Lieutenant Colonel Jamie O’Gilvie testified before the Tivoli Enquiry that a day after the May 24, 2010 start of the operation, men dressed in white T-shirts and jeans were coming out of West Kingston communities telling the soldiers they were hungry and had nowhere to sleep, and that they were from various rural parishes.
“When we asked what they were doing there the question was met with stony silence,” O’Gilvie said in his examination-in-chief led by attorney Linton Gordon.
He said soldiers handed the men over to the police for processing.
He said the first set of men numbered 30 and were taken away in a Coaster bus.
The second set of men, he said, numbered up to 25, and were taken away in a truck after being rounded up.
“Some of them were pushed out,” he testified. “Residents of Denham Town would stand at their gates and tell us, ‘Soljie, me no know this man’,” O’Gilvie testified.
“This is new information,” said commission chairman Sir David Simmons as he frantically took notes.
The men’s mode of dress fits previous evidence about the way some of the men opposing Coke’s arrest were attired.
O’Gilvie’s evidence also corroborated other evidence that men were imported into Tivoli Gardens from various areas outside the Corporate Area to help with efforts to oppose the security forces.
O’Gilvie’s evidence comes on a day when the enquiry, being held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, heard testimony that 26 soldiers had been treated for combat-related injuries over a two-day period, May 25 and 26, 2010.
Major Gail Ranglin-Edwardas, the JDF’s medical officer, testified to the injuries during her examination-in-chief led by attorney Peter Champagnie.
She testified that one of the soldiers’ legs had to be amputated above the knee due to the injury he received.
Dr Ranglin-Edwards said she was most touched by the death of Private Green, who was shot in the head through his protective helmet.
“It will stay with me until I die,” she said.
She said that of the 26 soldiers, 14 received gunshot wounds and others were wounded from shrapnel. The shrapnel wounds, she said, were synonymous with improvised explosive devices.
The medical doctor told Deborah Martin — one of the attorneys for the Jamaica Constabulary Force — that 11 of the soldiers treated suffered permanent disability as a result of their injuries and that some had their retirement accelerated.
The enquiry is looking into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 74 people during the operation to apprehended Coke, who was wanted in the US on gun and drug-running charges. Coke was arrested in June 2010 and extradited to the United States where he is serving a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to reduced charges.
Yesterday, the enquiry also heard evidence from a Tivoli Gardens resident, Denton Dacres, who testified that his nephew Jermaine Gordon was shot and killed inside his house on May 25, 2010 after three masked police officers and a member of the JDF took him inside.
Dacres testified that he and other men were later placed in a police truck with 12 bodies, including that of his nephew who went by the alias ‘Porridge Man’.
At that point, he testified, a police officer asked, “Weh we ago do wid dem yah? Dem a guh dead, too? How we a mix up dead man wid live man? Dem ago dead too?”
He said that after talking things over, police officers removed them to another vehicle, eventually taking them away for processing.
The enquiry continues today. However, the sitting will not be televised as the staff of the Jamaica Information Service will be attending a colleague’s funeral.
Published By: The Observer
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