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US firm on ‘Dudus’ extradition

BY PATRICK FOSTER Observer writer fosterp@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 13, 2010    

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THE US is holding firm to its extradition request for Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke but adds that the Jamaican Government's reluctance in signing the order is not linked to the delay in appointing a new ambassador to the island.

"Right now we have no intention of the removing the request," Julissa Reynoso, newly appointed US deputy assistant secretary of state for Central America and the Caribbean, stated at a special meeting with journalists yesterday at the US Embassy in Kingston.

"We consider this individual to be a person of very high interest," Reynoso said, adding that the US was actively engaged with the Government of Jamaica to make the extradition happen as soon as possible.

Reynoso, an attorney-at-law by profession, confidently declared that her country did its "due diligence" regarding Coke's activities.

"We believe we have sound grounds," she said. "We do our due diligence quite well before we take any steps of that kind."

Reynoso added that the extradition was an issue of "utmost importance" to the judicial system and domestic and international policy of the US.

Coke, a west Kingston Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) strongman, was accused of drugs and gun trafficking by US authorities and a request for his extradition issued August last year.

The Government, however, has stalled signing the order, requesting additional information on the case against Coke from the US authorities.

Reynoso, who is scheduled to leave the island today, said that the issue of Coke's extradition and other topics of national importance, were discussed at a meeting she had with Foreign Affairs Minister Kenneth Baugh yesterday.

She, however, did not disclose the details of talks regarding Coke.

But while insisting that the US would not relent on the extradition of Coke, Reynoso sought to assure the country that the delayed appointment of an ambassador to the island was not linked to discussions regarding the extradition request.

"It [extradition] has not affected the relationship between the US and Jamaica," Reynoso emphasised. "We are actively engaged in having this thing resolved but it is not the heart and soul of our relationship," she said.

Reynoso instead placed the blame for the protracted appointment of a US ambassador to Jamaica on administrative procedures in the State Department.

"It's just the way things work," she said.

Reynoso told journalists that representatives were currently being contemplated and a nomination is expected in approximately two months.

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