Following the loss of Vybz Kartel's appeal against his murder conviction, the incarcerated Dancehall artiste's defense team has revealed that they will be seeking leave to appeal at the Privy Council in London.
Last Friday (April 3), Jamaica's Court of Appeal rejected the appeal by the “Tony Montanna” deejay and his co-accused Shawn “Shawn Storm” Campbell, Kahira Jones, and Andre St John who were in 2014 convicted for the 2011 murder of Clive ‘Lizard' Williams.
During the long wait for the Jamaican entertainer's appeal verdict, there have been many expectations among music fans that the “Worl Boss” deejay would have already been released.
Vybz Kartel's high-powered attorneys has since voiced their disappointment in the Court of Appeal's judgment and vowed to head to the United Kingdom-based Privy Council where they are hoping for a better outcome.
“The judgment delivered by President Morrison of the Court of Appeal which dismissed the appeal of Adidja Palmer and his co-defendants is not one that has been unexpected. We have been preparing to go to the Privy Council for several months now and we will proceed to do that,” Queen's Counsel Tom Tavares-Finson told the Jamaica Observer last week.
“We are confident that once we go to the Privy Council, we will get justice in this matter. This is a travesty, it is unprecedented and it is outrageous … and the Privy Council will no doubt have something to say about that,” he charged.
The Judicial Committee of The Privy Council (JCPC) is the court of final appeal for the UK overseas territories and Crown dependencies, and for those Commonwealth countries that have retained the appeal to Her Majesty in Council or, in the case of Republics, to the Judicial Committee.
The COVID-19 outbreak resulting in mass deaths in the United Kingdom and Europe at large could present major delays in the final murder conviction appeal of the controversial musician, attorneys representing him have admitted.
With the UK borders remaining closed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed almost 9,000 people in that country, Queen's Counsel Valerie Neita-Robertson, who also represents Vybz Kartel, believes the appeal process could extend beyond a year.
“We have to go to the Court of Appeal here for leave. So there is an intermediate stage before we get there. Sometimes it will take a year under regular circumstances – it is not a quick process – but of course the UK is under so much stress now, we don't know when the courts will be up,” she said.
QC Neita Robertson also told media reporters that she is convinced “Kartel did not get a fair trial”. The senior lawyer said that she was not surprised by the outcome of the appeal, despite the strong arguments that were put before the courts for the convictions to be overturned.
“The public pressure is such that there is a lot of negatives for Vybz Kartel from certain persons and areas of the society, so I expected it,” she said.
Vybz Kartel's business partner and co-author of the deejay's book, “The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto,” Michael Dawson, told reporters that the imprisoned artiste may fare better now that the case will no longer be handled by the Jamaican justice system.
“Kartel totally understands the system, he has no illusions about it. He tried to be confident about being given fairness in Jamaica, but deep down he knew how it was,” Dawson reportedly told the Jamaica Gleaner.
Just days prior to Vybz Kartel's appeal judgment, the “Up Top Gaza” deejay telegraphed that he was confident he would be freed.
“I feel very upbeat about the case. I'm 100 percent sure I should be set free. Legally there is little to be concerned about. But put the ‘Kartel factor' in the mix and everything gets complicated,” the incarcerated deejay is quoted saying in comments sent to the Jamaica Gleaner via Gaza's vice-president, Sikka Rhymes, last week.
Vybz Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, has been in custody since September 29, 2011.
The “Brave” entertainer and his co-convicts denied the allegations but were convicted by a jury panel during the 17-week trial. All 4 men received life sentences.
The “World Government” deejay should be eligible for parole after serving 35 years. He is currently at the St Catherine Adult Correctional Facility.
To bring an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, you must have been granted leave by the lower court whose decision you are appealing, according to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council website. In the absence of leave, permission to appeal must be granted by the Board. In some cases, there is an appeal as of right and a slightly different procedure applies.
In civil cases, the lower court will generally grant you leave to appeal if the court is satisfied that your case raises a point of general public importance.
In criminal cases, it is unusual for the lower court to have the power to grant leave unless your case raises questions of great and general importance, or there has been some grave violation of the principles of natural justice.