'Not the worst outcome'- Tavares-Finson on Kartel verdict
A retrial for dancehall star, Adidja ‘Vybz Kartel’ Palmer would have been worse than the outright rejection of his appeal against his murder conviction and sentence, according to his attorney, Tom Tavares-Finson.
The noted Queen’s Counsel made the comment during a radio interview shortly after the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal brought by Kartel and his three co-accused Friday morning.
It was the most anticipated legal decision in Jamaica in a long time.
Tavares-Finson said the decision paves the way for the legal team to take the matter to the United Kingdom-based Privy Council within the next 18 months.
“The most important thing is to get a decision at this point in time because needless to say we will take the matter to the Privy Council,” he said.
Regarding the length of time it took the court to arrive at a verdict, Tavares-Finson said: “This has been an unprecedented length of time – two years since the appeal was heard and almost four years since the conviction. In reality, we could have gone to the Privy Council and come back already in that period of time.”
According to Tavares-Finson: “What we did not want was a retrial. It was either this verdict or an acquittal and we have gotten one of the two and we accept it, it could be worse”.
The noted attorney insisted that it was not the worst possible outcome, arguing:“They (the judges) could’ve given us an order for a retrial which would mean another four or five years in the court system in Jamaica…
“We are confident that we will get a hearing in the Privy Council and we will get it in short order."
For her part, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewelyn, also speaking on radio, said the time it took to arrive at a verdict was based on the complexity of the case and “a lot of voluminous material”.
She said the team from her office took the time to ensure the appropriate care was exercised in the matter.
Kartel was convicted in 2014 for the 2011 murder of his associate Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams.
On Friday, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, headed by President, Dennis Morrison and including Justices Frank Williams and Patrick Brooks, announced their verdict shortly before 10am.
They did not immediately offer reasons for their decision.
The decision is a blow to the legions of diehard Gaza fans who, have patiently waited for nearly ten years with hopes of seeing the self-styled ‘World Boss’ walk free. While he was convicted in 2014, Kartel has been behind bars since September, 2011.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he serve 35 years before becoming eligible for parole.
His co-accused are Shawn Campbell, also called Shaw Storm, Kahira Jones and Andre St John. They were also sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that they be eligible for paroe after 25 years.