Jamaican dancehall star Vybz Kartel mounts final appeal over murder conviction

Vybz Kartel
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LONDON,- Jamaican dancehall star Vybz Kartel on Wednesday asked a London court to overturn his murder conviction, citing attempts to bribe his trial jury and the use of incriminating messages as reasons his conviction is unsafe.

The musician, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, is one of Jamaica’s most popular artists and has collaborated with performers such as Jay-Z and Rihanna.

Kartel, 48, has been in jail in Jamaica since 2011 when he was arrested over the disappearance of his associate Clive “Lizard” Williams, whose body has never been found.

After a 64-day trial in Kingston, one of the longest in Jamaican history, Kartel and three others were convicted in 2014. Kartel was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 35 years, later reduced on appeal to 32-and-a-half.

Kartel and his co-defendants are mounting their final possible appeal at the Privy Council in London, the final court of appeal in Jamaica and some other Commonwealth countries.

Prosecutors had said Williams was murdered at Kartel’s home over two guns that Williams and another man had lost. They relied, in part, on messages sent by Williams before his alleged murder and others sent by one of Kartel’s co-defendants.

But lawyers representing Kartel and his co-defendants say the messages were obtained in breach of Jamaican law and should not have been put before the jury.

They also say the trial judge wrongly handled allegations that one juror offered 500,000 Jamaican dollars ($3,200) to fellow jurors to return not guilty verdicts, which could look like “the actions of guilty men” and prejudice the jury.

Lawyers representing Jamaican prosecutors said the trial judge was right to allow the messages into evidence and in how he dealt with the jury.

“The evidence in the case against all the appellants was overwhelming, in particular in the case of Mr Palmer,” Peter Knox said in court filings.

He added: “Even if there were irregularities in the trial, they did not result in a serious miscarriage of justice.”

The appeal concludes on Thursday with a ruling expected at a later date.

Source: Reuters