The retired head of the Jamaica Defence Force, Major General Stewart Saunders, has revealed that it was he who asked for air surveillance assistance of Tivoli Gardens during the operation to capture Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke in May 2010.
General Saunders made the revelation as he testified today at the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry.
He said he made the request in a letter to the Ministry of National Security.
General Saunders admitted that he didn’t discuss his request for help with the former National Security Minister Dwight Nelson, but he said he expected that the Minister would’ve known about it “directly or indirectly”.
There has been mystery about just who made the request to US authorities for a surveillance plane to fly over Jamaica during the May, 2010 operation.
All witnesses who’d testified at the Enquiry up until now said they didn’t know who did.
They included former National Security Minister, Dwight Nelson.
But today, General Saunders – who retired from the JDF months after the operation – put an end to the mystery.
He made the revelation as he was being cross-examined by Counsel to the Commission, Garth McBean, who’d asked him if he was ever aware of the use of the U.S. surveillance aircraft.
But he was unable to say precisely when the request was made.
General Saunders said he believed Mr. Nelson would have been aware of the request – at least indirectly.
The former Chief of Defense Staff also testified that he didn’t personally discuss the matter with Mr. Nelson, saying it was a ‘normal, routine-type request’.
AND, he said he got reports from his staff that there wasn’t much that could be discerned from the footage so it wasn’t very useful.
But he said, under the circumstances, the assistance was very much appreciated.