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Jamaica to examine bloodbath operation

Jamaica appointed a fact-finding panel Monday to examine a May 2010 operation by security forces that killed more than 70 citizens in gritty slums during a state of emergency on the Caribbean island.

The government said the long-sought commission of inquiry will conduct a "fair and impartial" look at the deadly operation in Tivoli Gardens and a patchwork of other so-called "garrison" ghettos in West Kingston to catch the island's biggest gang boss and exert legal authority over the area.

The commission will be led by David Simmons, a retired chief justice and former attorney general of Barbados. It's not clear when the panel will begin hearings, but the government says it will try to conclude its inquiry within three months of whenever it starts. It says commissioners may hold a mix of public and private hearings.

The inquiry is expected to examine the conduct of security forces, how people were killed and whether citizens' rights were violated by law enforcement officers or anyone else.

Nearly four years after the offensive by Jamaican military and police, basic details of what happened remain murky even though it was the bloodiest episode in Jamaica's recent history. There have been numerous allegations of unlawful killings in the barricaded housing complex of Tivoli Gardens, and human rights groups have been calling for an independent inquiry for years.

The Canadian Press

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