Following his incarceration, Vybz Kartel will once again have his day in court, with the United Kingdom Privy Council scheduled to hear his appeal this week. Over the years, many dancehall fans have called for the ‘Worl’ Boss’ to be freed, but will the deejay’s last attempt to overturn his conviction finally answer that call?
Vybz Kartel, Kahira Jones, Andre St. John, and Shawn Campbell, also known as Shawn Storm, were convicted in 2014 for the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams. The men later appealed the conviction in the Jamaica Court of Appeal in 2020.
While the appellants had the minimum amount of time they were required to serve before they were eligible for parole reduced, their conviction was upheld. The men went on to file another appeal in the Privy Council, Jamaica’s final court of appeal.
As the matter was expedited due to Kartel’s declining health, their appeal is scheduled for February 14 and 15 this week. According to reports from DanehallMag, three primary issues from Kartel’s trial will be argued in the upcoming appeal.
One of the issues in the case that the defence will be highlighting is the legality and validity of cell phone and other telecommunication evidence obtained and used by the prosecution. Following a request from the police, mobile phone network provider Digicel provided the authorities with data taken from phones belonging to the defendants.
While the prosecution relied heavily on this evidence, the defence challenged whether the information taken from the phones should be admissible in court. The defence argued that the use of the information and how it was obtained violated the Interception of Communications Act, rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms contained in the Jamaican Constitution.
Another issue that will be the focus of the appeal will be how the attempt to tamper with the jury was handled by the judge. It was alleged during the trial that Livingston Caine, a member of the jury, sought to obtain a not-guilty verdict by bribing the jury forewoman with $500,000.
Judge Justice Lennox Campbell did not discharge the jury or Caine, raising questions about whether the trial was compromised. In addition to concerns regarding jury tampering, the time given for the jurors to deliberate has also been listed as a primary issue in the appeal.
The jury had failed to come to a unanimous verdict at 5.35 p.m. after the judge finished his summing up at 3.42 p.m. on the day of Kartel’s conviction. However, after the judge sent them back to deliberate, the jury returned with a guilty verdict shortly after, at 6.08 p.m. Concerns have been raised if the jury was pressured.
Panel justices, comprised of Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs, Lord Burrows, and Lady Simler, have been assigned by the Privy Council for the upcoming appeal. Arguments from the defence and the prosecution will be heard by the justices, who will issue their ruling at a later date.
Speaking with DancehallMag, Kartel’s attorney, Isat Buchanan, expressed that he is eager to argue his client’s case and shared his confidence in the Jamaican constitution.
“I believe in the Jamaican constitution; it is the last instrument in existence that restores humanity in Jamaica,” Buchanan stated.