Newsmaker: Will Kartel and co stand trial again for Lizard’s killing? Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

This week’s featured overall development as Newsmaker of the Week just ended is the decision by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) to quash the convictions of dancehall star Vybz Kartel and his three co-accused on Thursday.

The JCPC, in overturning the murder convictions for which the men were sentenced to life in prison for the 2011 murder of their friend, Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams, due to jury misconduct, sent the matter back to Jamaica’s Court of Appeal to decide whether there should be a retrial.

Anticipation is now building among fans of the dancehall star, as well as attorneys of the other three men, as they wait to see if the local appellate court will decide that the men will have to answer to Williams’ murder for a second time.

It is uncertain when the Court of Appeal will set a date to hear submissions from the men’s defence attorneys on the issue of a retrial, given that the Hilary Term of the court ends in a few days’ time for the Easter break.

In the interim, bail applications could be filed for the men in the coming days, this despite the convictions against them having been quashed, which some Jamaicans seem to believe means that the men are technically free.

Kartel, Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John have been behind bars since their 2011 arrest for Williams’ murder.

And despite the legal troubles being possibly far from over for the entertainer dubbed ‘World Boss’, Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, declared on Thursday on his official Instagram page: “Victorious!!!!”

The JCPC “unanimously” concluded that the decision by the trial judge in the Vybz Kartel murder case to allow a tainted juror to remain on the jury was “fatal” to the safety of the entertainer’s and his co-accused’s subsequent murder convictions.

The juror had attempted to bribe others by offering $500,000 for a particular outcome.

“Allowing juror X (the tainted juror) to remain on the jury is fatal to the safety of the conviction which followed.

“It was an infringement of the appellant’s fundamental right to a fair hearing under the Jamaican Constitution,” stated Lord Lloyd-Jones, one of the five Privy Council Justices who heard the appeal.

Lloyd-Jones, in delivering the oral judgment, said “the board (UK Privy Council)” had “considerable sympathy for the dilemma faced by the trial judge on the final day of a long and complex trial,” because following the allegations of bribery, the trial judge had either to continue with the 11 remaining jurors, or to discharge the jury.

“Despite this, the board considered that the approach that was taken by the judge was a material irregularity in the course of the trial, which makes it necessary to quash the convictions,” Lloyd-Jones stated.

In responding to the overall Privy Council decision, Isat Buchanan, who was part of the team representing Kartel, took to social media, where he said it was both a historical and monumental moment for the entertainer.

Senior attorney-at-law Bert Samuels, whose team represented Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell at the UK Privy Council hearing, expressed his elation that the convictions have been quashed.

At the same time, Samuels insisted that Campbell, Kartel and the two other defendants should not face a retrial in the matter.

“Going forward, it’s all up to Shawn Campbell, what kind of team he wants (to represent him); it’s his decision, but whoever is doing it will now be able to say there should be no retrial,” Samuels told Loop News.

The veteran attorney said there are several factors why the men should not be tried again.

“These relate to how long the persons have been in custody, the length of the trial and the cost to the defendants to find new lawyers,” Samuels explained.

He also pointed to what he described as the pre-trial publicity, should a new trial be ordered, and adverse publicity that is in the public domain about the case.

On social media, there were scenes of jubilation for some of Kartel’s fans, while other persons appeared perturbed that the UK Privy Council did not itself decide on the matter of the retrial.

Others were seemingly peeved that the court quashed the convictions against the four men.

“I’m a Jamaican, but why are we celebrating? Someone was murdered and the family can’t get back their loved one. Hello? What happening in Jamaica?” asked a woman on Instagram.

“Him (Kartel) deh a lock up over 10 years now and dem still can’t (allegedly) find no new evidence pon him… So why not let him go?” asked another woman.

On the matter of the retrial, a woman opined that, “The Privy Council should have given them (the Jamaican Court of Appeal) a deadline to make a decision in that order.”

On Facebook, a man reflected on the trial of Kartel, which lasted for 64 days back between 2013 and 2014.

“The prosecutor’s video evidence where angry Kartel talks about his missing ‘shoes’ and his visit to a bloody crime scene sent chills (down my spine) and tells it all,” he wrote.

 “Anybody that do crime should do the time. No matter who it is. Jamaica is a land of double standards and it’s getting worse,” the man suggested.

Commented a female Facebook user: “Dem need to free Worl(d) Boss (Kartel) ’cause weh dem a hold on him so long fah and Britain (Privy Council) say him free? A foolishness Jamaica court a keep up.”

However, another woman, in response to that comment, said the Appeal Court will “consider a lot of factors” before determining whether a retrial is feasible.

“So Kartel will just have to wait in prison,” she claimed.

Meanwhile, a male Facebook user said: “I have never seen a country that glorifies criminals (more) than its law-abiding citizens. No wonder the country is in this dilapidated state. I’m so sorry for them.”

Shared another: “What about the victim in all this? Don’t his (Clive Williams’) family deserve justice?

“Just because he’s (Kartel) famous, the victim’s family should not get any justice? People seem to forget a man lost his life,” he argued.

A woman who claimed to be a fan of Kartel, warned other Facebook users to be careful of how quickly they wanted to see the incarcerated deejay walk free from prison.

“I’m a huge fan of Vybz (Kartel), but don’t allow his fame to cloud your better judgment,” she warned, adding “That could be anyone of ours six feet under, and I bet you guys wouldn’t be singing the same tune.”

Amid that warning, a man commented: “None of unuh never see Kartel kill Lizard (Clive Williams).

“All a unuh turn lawyer now, but Free Kartel now me say!”