Mark Beckford, Staff Reporter:
Another Jamaican has had his court case dismissed by a United States judge because of lack of evidence, after being extradited to that country on charges of trafficking of cocaine and money laundering.
Adrian Armstrong's case was dismissed on September 23 after being extradited to the US in 2006. This was after spending two years in custody in Jamaica.
Armstrong's ordeal began when he was arrested on July 11, 2004 on a narcotics charge.
On July 13, 2006, he decided to discontinue his fight against the charges in the US after reportedly "losing faith" in the local justice system.
Armstrong's charges were based on evidence offered by a co-operating witness known as Duffis Alexander, who presented himself as a witness.
The witness purported to have taped and recorded telephone conversations between himself and Armstrong regarding cocaine trafficking and money laundering. Neither the tape nor a transcript of the tape was supplied with the extradition request.
Applications to the resident magistrate and to the Supreme Court, as well as requests to the requesting state's representative for the tape, were unsuccessful.
In the US, these tapes were presented in court and subsequently examined by an expert on behalf of Armstrong, and two experts, on behalf of the government.
Examination of these tapes revealed there were several discrepancies.
These included stop-start features on the recording, a possibility that there was over-recording, anomalies which question its moral integrity and the possibility of tampering.
Based on evidence, on December 30, 2008, the US judge ordered the suppression of the tape, but denied the motion to dismiss on the basis of outrageous government conduct.
The prosecution then offered Armstrong a plea to a lesser offence, which he refused.
Armstrong's lawyer persisted with the motion to dismiss, which was finally granted on the government's application on September 23.
Armstrong has not yet returned to the island, his lawyer Jacqueline Samuels-Brown told The Gleaner.
She said she was in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as her client had no passport for travel. She said he was in the process of gathering these documents to return home.
Picking up the pieces will not be so easy, Samuels-Brown said, as Armstrong has reportedly expressed disappointment at how he was treated.
"The way I would characterise him is that he is a patient person, a fighter, and his spirits remain strong. He has reiterated his love and commitment to his country, but he is disappointed that his country did not afford him the facilities and the protection of the law," said Samuels-Brown.
December 16, 2009