Friday, 08 March 2024 11:52

Privy Council: Vybz Kartel to know fate next Thursday

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Incarcerated dancehall artiste Adidja ‘Vybz Kartel’ Palmer is expected to know his fate next week as the Privy Council has announced that a ruling in the appeal to overturn his murder conviction will be handed down on Thursday, March 14.

The entertainer, sentenced to life in prison more than a decade ago, had been granted an expedited hearing by the Privy Council in October 2023.

Specifics regarding the deejay’s case were heard in the United Kingdom on February 14 and 15. The decision then, comes just over a month after court proceedings concluded. It was expected that the final decision could take up to 12 weeks.

After a trial lasting 64 days before the trial judge and a jury in the Home Circuit Court, Kartel and his co-accused including Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell were convicted of the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams who was reportedly killed on August 16, 2011.

The police took Kartel and his co-accused into custody on September 30 2011. Their cellular phones were seized. According to the Privy Council’s release, the prosecution relied heavily on evidence derived from these phones, which was taken from “a copy of a CD rom provided by Digicel (a telecommunications provider in Jamaica) in response to a police request.”

It further stated that at the trial, Kartel et al challenged the admissibility of the telecommunications evidence. They argued that the police request to Digicel and Digicel’s provision of data to the police were carried out in breach of the Interception of Communications Act. “Further, the evidence had been obtained in breach of the fundamental right to the protection of privacy of communication guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms contained in the Jamaican Constitution,” the High Court’s statement read.

The trial judge ruled that the telecommunications evidence was admissible.

During the trial, the judge also became aware of an allegation that a juror had attempted to bribe others by offering $500,000 JMD for a particular outcome. The trial was allowed to proceed as the judge did not discharge the jury, or the particular juror said to have offered the bribes.

According to the Privy Council, its ruling will be made against the background of several grounds of challenge, specifically:

  • Should the trial judge have excluded the telecommunications evidence relied on by the prosecution?
  • How should the judge have handled the allegations that there were attempts to bribe members of the jury during the trial? Should the jury have been discharged?
  • Was the judge wrong to invite the jury to reach a verdict late in the day, given the special circumstances of the case?

Kartel and three others were handed life sentences in March 2014.

Their appeal was dismissed in Jamaica’s Court of Appeal before the matter was brought before the Privy Council in the UK.