Mortars in Tivoli were not harmless - Williams

February 19, 2016
Terrence Williams

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) has raised questions about the advice former army chief Major General Stewart Saunders gave then Prime Minister Bruce Golding on the planned use of mortars during the May 2010 operations in Tivoli Gardens.

Last February, Golding testified at the enquiry that when Saunders informed him of the planned use of mortars in the operations, he indicated that they would be "more bark than bite".

In his submission before the three-member tribunal yesterday, INDECOM boss Terrence Williams contended that such advice gave the impression that the mortars to be used by the JDF were harmless. "Based on what we have heard regarding the deadly effect of the mortar, I wonder how it is that could have been said to the Prime Minister when this is a deadly weapon," he said.

 

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To support this assertion, Williams said one of the 'incontrovertible facts' from the evidence before the commission is that the JDF's use of mortars during the operation was "well in breach" of the safety distances established by international conventions.

He described the decision to fire mortars into the football field near the Tivoli Gardens Community Centre as most egregious, pointing to the testimony of two international experts that the area, with a 40-metre radius of the explosive, would be considered a deadly zone, while persons within a 190-metre radius would be exposed to serious injuries.

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