(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – Attorney-at-law Isat Buchanan, who represents the embattled deejay Vybz Kartel, is now in England to argue the deejay’s appeal in the United Kingdom-based Privy Council—Jamaica’s final appellate court—between February 14 and 15, 2024.
Vybz Kartel is currently serving a life sentence for the 2011 murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams.
“The key points are the jury management issues, the discharging of a jury and failure to discharge the bribing juror; the judge handing the case to the jury so late in the day at 3:42 pm; and the admissibility of JS2 in breach of the charter rights,” Buchanan told Observer Online.
“The JS2 is telecommunication and the evidence entered in breach of the charter right to privacy,” he added.
The central plank in the defence’s Privy Council appeal questions the validity of cell phone and other telecommunication evidence presented by the prosecution which the defence argued had been compromised.
The defence lawyers intend to argue that the telecom 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. Kartel’s defence team is also contending 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.
Vybz Kartel and his co-appellants had already tried and failed to introduce two additional grounds for appeal, including the introduction of evidence that Kartel’s cellphone had shown signs of tampering while in police custody. In February 2023, the Privy Council denied the two applications.
Another one of the major bones of contention in the case is the attempted jury tampering.
During the trial, the judge, Justice Lennox Campbell, became aware of an allegation that a juror had attempted to bribe the jury forewoman by offering $500,000 to influence other jurors to return a not-guilty verdict.
The offer was also allegedly made to some other jurors by Livingston Caine.
After discussing the attempted jury tampering with both the prosecution and the defence, Justice Campbell decided that the trial should proceed, opting not to discharge the jury, or the particular juror who was accused of offering the bribes.
Caine was later found guilty in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court of perverting the course of justice. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison at hard labour.
Buchanan will also be arguing the question: “Was the judge wrong to invite the jury to reach a verdict late in the day, given the special circumstances of the case?”
Court records note that Justice Campbell finished his summing up at 3:42pm on March 13, 2014. The jury returned at 5:35 pm, when the forewoman told the court that the jury had not reached a unanimous verdict. However, Campbell sent the jury out again and they returned at 6:08pm, and, by a majority of 10 to 1, convicted the appellants of the murder of Williams.
Back in July, Bert Samuels, the attorney for Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, had announced that the UK court had set tentative dates of April 16 through 18 in 2024 to hear the main arguments in the quartet’s appeal. However, Kartel’s battle with Graves’ disease, a condition which was reportedly exacerbated when the ‘Fever’ deejay was placed in a 23-hour stint in solitary confinement – after two cellphones were found in his cell – led to an expedited date for the appeal on humanitarian grounds.
“His condition is being managed as best as possible in the circumstances currently. Proper treatment however is needed,” Buchanan said.
Vybes Kartel reportedly suffers from Graves’ disease and two heart conditions.
In March 2014, Kartel, real name Adidja Palmer, Shawn ‘Storm’ Campbell, and two associates, Kahira Jones and Andre ‘Mad Suss’ St John, were all found guilty of killing Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams.
Williams disappeared and his body was never found.
After their conviction was largely upheld by the Jamaica Court Of Appeal in April 2020, the four men moved to the Privy Council, the final court of appeal for Jamaica, seeking to overturn their life sentences that range from 22 to 32 years before parole.
The Privy Council has assigned a panel of five justices — Lord Reed, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs, Lord Burrows, and Lady Simler — who will hear arguments from both sides on key issues in the case.