Privy Council decision in Vybz Kartel appeal set for March 14 Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Incarcerated dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel and his co-convicts should know there fate next week, when the judgement in their murder appeal case in handed down by the Privy Council.

The fifth and highest tier of the Jamaican court system, the Privy Council announced Friday that the judgement will be handed down on March 14 at 11am (Jamaica time).

Vybz Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, was convicted on March 13, 2014—along with fellow appellants Shawn Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John—of the murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams. 

Lord Reed, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs, Lord Burrows and Lady Simler heard their appeal during a two-day hearing in the UK in February.

A Privy Council document outlined that the issue in the appeal that was heard was whether their convictions are safe in light of the following grounds of challenge:

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 (or the particular juror said to have offered the bribes) 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?

See the facts as outlined by the Privy Council below:

After a trial lasting 64 days before the trial judge and a jury in the Home Circuit Court in Kingston, Jamaica, the appellants were convicted of Mr Williams’ murder. The prosecution’s case was that the appellants murdered Mr Williams on 16 August 2011 after he failed to return two unlicensed firearms which the second appellant, Mr Palmer, had given him for safekeeping.

Mr Williams was not seen or heard from after that date, and his body has never been found.

The police took the appellants into custody on 30 September 2011 and seized their cellular telephones. The prosecution relied heavily on evidence derived from these phones, which was taken from a copy of a CD-ROM provided by a telecommunications provider in response to a police request.

At the trial, the appellants challenged the admissibility of this telecommunications evidence. They argued that the police request to the telecommunications company and the company’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. However, the trial judge ruled that the telecommunications evidence was admissible.

During the trial, the judge became aware of an allegation that a juror had attempted to bride others by offering J$500,000 for a particular outcome. After investigating the allegation and considering it with counsel for both the prosecution and the defence, the judge decided that the trial should proceed. He did not discharge the jury, or the particular juror said to have offered the bribes.

The judge finished his summing up at 3:42 pm on 13 March 2014. The jury returned at 5:35 pm when the forewoman told the court that the jury had not reached a unanimous verdict. The judge sent the jury out again. At 6:08 pm, the jury returned and, by a majority of 10 to 1, convicted the appellants of the murder of Mr Williams.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appellants’ appeal against conviction. The appellants then appealed to His Majesty in Council.

That decision will be promulgated on March 14.