Thu | Aug 13, 2020

Keith Clarke’s daughter: I forgive them - Rubbishes claims of Christopher Coke links and demands justice 10 years on

Published:Friday | May 29, 2020 | 12:30 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter

Ten years after her father, Keith Clarke, was killed inside his home during a military operation, his eldest daughter says she has forgiven the alleged trigger men.

Claudine Clarke Tracey insists, however, that those who are responsible must be brought to justice.

“It has been very difficult, and the truest test as a Christian, to forgive these men. But by God’s grace, I have forgiven them. I do, however, believe that justice must be served by all who played a role.”

Clarke, an accountant, was slain at his Kirkland Heights home in upper St Andrew on May 27, 2010, purportedly as part of a manhunt for Christopher Coke in the wake of a failed and bloody bid to capture the then fugitive in his Tivoli Gardens den.

Coke was eventually caught a month after the Tivoli firefights and extradited to the US.

Clarke was shot 21 times – with many bullet wounds to his back.

Corporal Odel Buckley, Lance Corporal Greg Tinglin, and Private Arnold Henry were charged with Clarke’s murder.

Clarke Tracey’s longing for justice will be extended after a May 5 court decision stalling the soldiers’ trial until the hearing of an appeal in relation to the belatedly signed ‘good-faith certificates’ that were expected to grant them immunity from prosecution.

In February, a panel of Supreme Court judges ruled that the certificates, which were signed in 2016, were unconstitutional and manifestly unfair.

The army has never detailed the intelligence that led them to Clarke’s house on that fateful night, but it has been asserted that Coke, nicknamed ‘Dudus’, and his cronies may have been hiding at the Kirkland Heights premises.

RIDICULOUS RUMOURS

Numerous theories have been spawned in the wake of the operation, including that Clarke may have fathered Coke and that he might have worked for the now-convicted drug lord.

But Clarke Tracey has rubbished those claims as “unfounded, completely false, and ridiculous”.

She has also strongly denied rumours that gunmen may have taken cover at her dad’s home, which had its walls pockmarked and fixtures damaged during the attack.

“I have no knowledge that the security forces are making such an unfounded claim. There was not, nor has there ever been, any one hiding at the Clarke home for any reason,” she told The Gleaner.

The Clarke family has a strong legacy of public service in Jamaican life, with Keith’s brother, Claude, a former government minister in the 1990s, and Mary Clarke, his sister-in-law, the country’s first children’s advocate.

Dr Nigel Clarke, the current minister of finance, is the son of Mary Clarke.

Clarke Tracey has fond memories of her father as a devoted family man with a strong moral centre.

“He was stern yet loving and family oriented. He had very strict and deep morals and values and a high standard for us as children,” she said.

“He was a passionate believer in good governance and order. He was a man of integrity with an almost fanatical respect for the law and good values. He hated criminality and indiscipline more passionately than anyone I knew.”

Clarke’s daughter also remembers him as a sports enthusiast.

“I remember so many years as a child teasing him about his precious West Indies team,” Clarke Tracey said of the Caribbean cricketers.

“He loved nature and took great passion in different home-garden projects, each year coming with the next big thing he will do with the backyard.”

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com