Judge orders Vybz Kartel, co-defendants to remain in prison after rejecting application for their release

Francis Akhalbey May 31, 2024
Vybz Kartel was convicted of murder in 2014 -- Photo: Loop Jamaica News

A judge in Jamaica’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered dancehall star Vybz Kartel and two of his three co-defendants to remain in prison after their attorneys filed an unsuccessful habeas corpus application, Jamaica Observer reported.

The ruling before a packed courtroom by Justice Andrea Thomas comes after the United Kingdom’s Privy Council nullified the murder convictions of Kartel and his co-defendants in March. 

But Justice Thomas ruled that the murder charges against the renowned dancehall star and his co-defendants still stood because the Privy Council in its decision did not order the acquittal of the defendants. Justice Thomas in rejecting the habeas corpus application also stated that the defendants remaining in custody was not a violation of the Constitution.

“In view of the fact that their appeal is not yet determined they should remain in custody until their appeal is concluded,” Justice Thomas ruled. “That is until a verdict of acquittal is entered or there is a decision for a retrial.”

The attorneys for Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Azim Palmer, and his co-defendants had filed the habeas corpus application on May 13 for the court to ascertain whether the state was unlawfully detaining the three defendants. 

Isat Buchanan, the defense attorney for Kartel and his co-defendants, told the court that “a conviction must exist for there to be authority” to keep the men in custody, Jamaica Observer reported.

But state prosecutors argued that the Privy Council overturning the men’s convictions in March did not mean they had been acquitted – hence their murder charges remain “live” as they’re now back on pretrial status. 

The defense attorneys in their May 13 application had asked for their clients’ release because the Apex Court had not ordered Kartel and his co-defendants to remain in custody. The defense lawyers wanted the court to rule whether or not the men should be released or granted bail.

As previously reported by Face2Face Africa, Kartel was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014 after he was found guilty of his involvement in the murder of his former associate, Clive “Lizard” Williams. The “Worl’ Boss”, as he’s popularly known, has been locked up in Jamaica since his 2011 arrest in connection with the highly publicized murder.

In 2021 Buchanan filed an appeal against the 48-year-old’s conviction at the Privy Council based on new evidence. The Privy Council in March overturned the convictions of Kartel and his co-defendants and subsequently ordered the Jamaican government to foot their legal bills, Jamaica Observer reported.

“His Majesty was pleased by and with the advice of His Privy Council to approve the report and to order that those charged with administering the Government of Jamaica and all others whom it may concern are to ensure that it is punctually observed and obeyed,” the order, dated April 10, 2024, and signed by a clerk of the Privy Council, stated.

The order also highlighted four points, stating that the “appeal should be allowed” and the “Appellants’ convictions should be quashed on the ground of juror misconduct.”

“The case should be remitted to the Court of Appeal to decide whether to order a re-trial as soon as reasonably practicable,” the third point stated. “The Respondent should pay the Appellants’ costs, the amount of those costs to be assessed if not agreed,” the fourth point stated. 

The March ruling by the Privy Council means the local Court of Appeal will once again hear the murder case. The Court of Appeal is expected to convene on June 10 to determine if the case should be retried or whether the She Holding On singer and his co-defendants should be released.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 31, 2024


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