Sunday 12 July, 2020

Vybz Kartel's constitutional rights breached - defence

Vybz Kartel heads to court in 2014. (PHOTO: File)

Vybz Kartel heads to court in 2014. (PHOTO: File)

The defence in the appeal brought by murder convict, Vybz Kartel and three co-accused, has accused the prosecution of breaching their clients’ constitutional rights and of not following due process during their 2014 murder trial.

On Tuesday, members the defence team charged that Kartel’s constitutional rights were violated during the much publicised trial in which he and Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John were convicted for the murder of their associate, Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams.

The defence asserted that that right was breached when trial judge, Justice Lennox Campbell excluded them from an in camera hearing that was called to discuss allegations that the jury was contaminated.

This point was agued by Queens Counsel Valerie Neita Robertson. She said the four had a right to be present at all stages of their trial.

Robertson also argued that Campbell blundered when he handed the case to the jury shortly before 4:00 pm on the date their fates were sealed. The veteran attorney posited that it is not recommended in legal circles for the jury to be asked to deliberate on a case after 3:00 pm. She argued that the jurors were unduly pressured to arrive at a verdict and as such facilitated a miscarriage of justice.

A main point of argument for the defence has been the handling by Justice Campbell and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Paula Llewelyn, of information that a member of the jury panel had been bribed and in turn attempted to bribe the other jurors. Robertson pointed out that the jury foreman admitted that she had played for the other jurors a tape recording of a male member of the panel discussing the alleged bribe.

That juror has been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice and the matter is still before the courts. For Robertson, the allegation meant that the jury panel was further contaminated. She argued that Llewelyn should have discontinued the trial.

Also on Tuesday, the attorney for Kartel co-accused, Shawn Storm, pleaded with the justices not to order a retrial. According to Samuels, the prosecution’s case was deficient. Samuels asserted that the defects are incurable. He said any attempt to cure them to facilitate a retrial would tantamount to giving the prosecution “a second bite at an infected cherry.”

Court of Appeal President Dennis Morrison is joined by Justices Frank Williams and Patrick Brooks in hearing the appeal.

The defence is expected to wrap up its arguments between Wednesday and Thursday.

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