NEW York, USA — The lawyer representing convicted Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke is standing by controversial statements alleging complicity between United States (US) authorities and the Jamaican government in bringing charges against, and subsequently extraditing, his client.
Not withstanding that the claims have outraged the Jamaican Diaspora here, attorney Stephen H Rosen, in an interview with the Observer, was adamant he is correct in his assessment.
Rosen said the only part of his comments that he was prepared to retract was a reference to the US Secretary of State not wanting the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to win the last general election.
“I meant the State Department, not Secretary of State,” he said in a follow-up interview last week.
Rosen said that the previous People’s National Party (PNP) government had a close relationship with the US State and Justice Departments and charged that politics was responsible for Coke’s arrest and subsequent extradition.
He said that the US government “has always seem to favour the People’s National Party”.
“One of the first acts by the US after the JLP took office was to issue a request for Mr Coke’s extradition,” the attorney noted.
Asked if he could provide evidence to support his charges, Rosen referred to the controversial ‘wiretap’ Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) between the Jamaican and US governments, as well as information on the matter which he said are contained in documents from the Supreme Court of Jamaica.
The matter of the MOU’s, signed by Dr Peter Phillips under the previous PNP administration, allowing the US to eavesdrop on local telephone calls, are pivotal to the prosecution’s case against Coke.
“I don’t know anything about Jamaica’s internal politics. I have never sat in a room with a Jamaican politician,” Rosen said.
“These are (pieces of) information that were gathered by our lawyers in Jamaica and which is available for all to see. I don’t make up these things, I am just a simple lawyer working to provide the best representation for my client,” he said.
Rosen also accused the previous PNP government of misleading the Supreme Court on the wiretap evidence.
Outside a Manhattan courtroom where he first made most of his charges two Fridays ago, Rosen sought to debunk claims that Coke’s removal from Jamaica had led to a reduction in crimes there.
“They moved him out, an election is called, the old government is voted out and a new one takes over, yet there’s more murders in the first few days than before,” he charged.
But in a sharp response, Irwin Clare, who heads the Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board for the Northeast United States, described Rosen’s comments as “an insult to the intelligence of Jamaicans”.
He said that there was no evidence of US interference by way of preference in the last elections, which he described as fair and clean.
Clare said that while he understands Rosen’s right to do the best for his client, he should not use his position to “attack our democracy and democratic institutions”.
But Rosen said that “we can prove the charge of complicity”. He said that Coke’s defence team is now awaiting the next move by prosecutors in the case.
A week ago, Friday, the Coke defence team seemed to have won a major victory when Judge Joseph P Patterson ruled that prosecutors had not provided sufficient evidence to support their request for the imposition of the maximum 23-year prison sentence being sought under a plea-bargain agreement.
The parties are to return to court on May 22. Rosen has indicated that the defence could go into the discovery process if evidence to back certain claims by prosecutors are produced.