Vybz Kartel’s murder conviction overturned

Popular Jamaican dancehall star had been given a life sentence in 2014

Jamaican dancehall artist Vybz Kartel’s conviction for murder has been overturned.

The 48-year-old was given a life sentence in 2014 for the killing of Clive “Lizard” Williams on the Caribbean island.

His successful appeal, heard by the Privy Council in London, argued that a juror accused of trying to bribe others should have been thrown off his trial.

Authorities in Jamaica will decide whether the case should be retried.

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

His 64-day trial was one of the longest in Jamaican history, and ended with Kartel being ordered to serve a minimum of 35 years in jail.

This was later reduced to 32-and-a-half years.

The trial heard that victim Clive Williams and another man, Lamar Chow, were given two unlicensed firearms belonging to Kartel for safekeeping.

When they failed to return them at an agreed time, prosecutors said, they were summoned to Kartel’s house in August 2011.

Chow told the trial they were attacked and the last thing he saw was Clive Williams – who was never seen alive again – lying motionless on the ground.

The house burned down days later and a body was never recovered.

Kartel and his co-accused Shawn Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John had maintained their innocence since the original trial.

Their appeal hearing last month before The Privy Council, which serves as the highest court of appeal in Jamaica and other Commonwealth countries, was their last chance to reverse the verdict.

Delivering the council’s ruling, a panel of justices said that a juror accused of attempting to bribe fellow jury members was not removed.

The judge let them remain on the case and have a say in the final verdicts.

Allowing this juror to stay, the council said, was “fatal to the safety of the convictions which followed” and “an infringement of the [defendants’] fundamental right to a fair hearing”.

The men had also argued that jurors were sent to reach a verdict late in the day, putting them under “undue pressure” to do so.

They had also argued that a key piece of mobile phone evidence – a text message allegedly sent from Kartel’s phone – presented in court had been obtained in breach of guidelines.

However, the panel did not rule on these matters, finding that the allegations of bribery alone were serious enough to dismiss the guilty verdicts.

Vybz Kartel is known worldwide for hits including Clarks, Ramping Shop and Summer Time, and his success led to him launching lines of shoes, alcohol and condoms.

The singer also became the first dancehall artist to star in his own reality TV show, Teacha’s Pet. BBC

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