JFJ Press Release: Further Delays In Coroner’s Inquest

Further delays in Coroner’s Inquest

Thursday, January 18, 2008 – Kingston, Jamaica – The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has once again delayed a Coroner’s Inquest into the 2001 fatal shooting of Mr. Maurice Allen, it was revealed today at the Coroner’s Court in Kingston.

Despite advising that they no longer intended to request leave to appeal an October 2007 Coroner’s order to release the findings of a Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) investigation into the shooting, the AGO today requested yet another five-day stay to brief its JDF Board and the Jamaican Constabulary Force (JCF) clients.

“I won’t hear any more excuses from the Attorney General’s Office regarding extensions or stays,” stated Coroner for the Corporate Area, Resident Magistrate Patrick Murphy, following objection to the request by Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) legal counsel representing the Allen family. “In five days we are going to hear the submissions we were to hear today or I am going to disclose the documents,” the Coroner added.

The Coroner’s initial order to produce the investigative documents within 21 days from the original ruling was not followed. While the AGO reversed its intent to appeal the ruling in a higher court, JFJ considers today’s action the latest in a series of tactics delaying the Inquest and preventing closure for the Allen family.

The Coroner’s Inquest began in 2005, but has been stayed since 2006 for arguments – out of the hearing of the jury – as to whether the JDF documents should be produced for court. The October 2007 landmark ruling meant that the coroner and jury would, for the first time, have had the benefit of the army’s investigation as they attempted to get to the truth behind the circumstances leading to Mr. Allen’s death.

Morris Allen was fatally shot by security force members during an incident that involved both the JCF and the JDF. JFJ Counsel had contended that the soldiers’ statements and information derived from the JDF investigation were crucial if the coroner were to conduct a full and sufficient inquiry into Allen’s death. Three soldiers were dismissed in connection with the shooting. The matter is set to be heard again on Thursday, January 24 at 2:00 p.m.

For further information:
Carolyn Gomes – 382-8583; 755-4524-6