Vybz Kartel’s trials and tribulations

Update on Vybz Kartel sentencing along with tweets since the guilty verdict was passed.

Kartel holding kerchief to face as he enters courtroom for sentencing on March 27, 2014. Jermaine Barnaby/Photographer

Vybz Kartel’s sentencing was supposed to take place yesterday but has been postponed to April 3. The Dept of Correctional Services is to decide whether Kartel will be allowed to record music in prison, and if allowed, whether proceeds should go to the family of the victim Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams.

According to a report in the Jamaica Observer:

Justice Campbell postponed the sentencing after defence lawyers informed him that they had not received a letter he instructed the Supreme Court to draft and send to the prosecution and the defence.

Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn admitted receiving the correspondence.

Justice Campbell told the court that he wanted the assistance of both sides on sentencing guidelines.

He said the degree of participation of each convicted man in the murder would be important in his decision on how long they would be locked away in a penal facility.

“Sentences are not just clutched out of the air,” Justice Campbell said.

The judge said Llewellyn had made her recommendations and had pointed to sentences handed down in similar circumstances.

He referred to the case of singer Jah Cure (real name Sycatore Alcock), who recorded three albums while incarcerated at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, and wondered if, in the event that Vybz Kartel recorded music while he served his sentence, any proceeds made from those songs should go to Williams’ estate.

“In a previous matter, when a person was convicted who had some artistic talent certain things were done. It needs to be found out whether in fact it was open to the court for any of those proceeds gained could go to repairing any of the damage to the relatives of the deceased,” Justice Campbell said.

The Tower Street prison, popularly known as GP, is fitted with a fully operational recording studio and a low frequency radio station FREE FM, which broadcasts in the precincts of the prison.

In the case of Jah Cure, the proceeds of his songs were used to bolster the rehabilitation programme and he earned no money.

The prison authorities would have to ultimately make the decision for the victim’s family to be compensated from any recording released by the artiste while imprisoned.

Meanwhile below is a selection of tweets curated since Adidja Palmer/Vybz Kartel and his co-accused were found guilty.

  1. Bless up Robert Mugabe on ur 90th Earthstrong. Since Chavez gone, u n Castro r the only two real heroes let.
  2. Yes, Babylon, u.win this one. So every bad mind, envious hater of ghetto ppl celebrating now but there is more to.fwd
  3. Is just a regroup thing. Babylon.pull a fast one but we live and learn.
  4. “…one of the apparent drawbacks of living pon di Gaza…is that one of its commandments is no sexual activity, at all…” – The Fader
  5. who remembers that review of “gaza commandments” in the fader…
  6. Addi will be bigger tmoro than he was yesterday n dat nah change.Gaza is more than music,its a source of inspiration 4 ghetto yutes globally
    The tweet below is about someone who stole J$1000 from @Grindacologist 🙂
  7. RT @anniepaul@Grindacologist what yu gonna do? ¤ or maybe i will chop up di bredda fine fine…
  8. Certain things cant b discussed on this account. Follow@realgazawriter to be updated
  9. wonder if dem gon show kartel in him new york nets jersey…
  10. How is it that kern spencer was found not guilty on so much damning evidence but vybz kartel was found guilty on way less evidence?
  11. @emilynationwide . No problem except if u r a bleached tattooed Dancehall artiste that expect a fair trial n an unbiased judge
  12. Should have a special court for Politicians in Jamaica with a statue of a Kangaroo roun front n a stage 4 comedians inside
  13.  http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=51871 …. Not a single public official has been convicted but Tommy Lee,Sizzla,Movado,Ninja, Busy, Buju, Popcaan, get pressure
  14. Gaza family, just keep calm n jus watch wat a gwaan tmoro. Nuh give the Police any reason to beat up anymore poor people.
  15. Confirming that Addi has asked his lawyers to NOT BEG FOR ANY MERCY tmoro in Court. He maintains that he is an innocent man unjustly framed
  16. @ayannahomer30 Truth is sistren, it is the system’s hands n dem on a mission to destroy the Gaza
  17. Vybz Kartel sentencing now, dancehall is to be incarcerated today! Long live the legend, long live dancehall!#kartel#Worl’Boss
  18. Gaza family, dem carry bag a police for a reason. Don’t give dem no chance to get dem wish.
  19. From 2009,long b4 any allegations, Addi told me they told him this day would come come if him no stop lick out gains Babylon n see it ya now
  20. Vybez Kartel arriving for court today. Mans about to be sentenced to 20yrs and man is bussin shades & ave fruit juice pic.twitter.com/2n6M3aL7u9
  21. WOW here we go again Jamaica calls out mounted Police, riot Police and even snipers on top of buildings as they await Kartel’s sentencing..
  22. UPDATE: Judge now requesting written submissions from defence regarding proposed guidelines for sentencing. Not readily available.
  23. Need to get some things done on King Street. This fuckry with Kartel needs to be resolved today.
  24. Murmur in Court as sentencing of Kartel is postponed until April 3 to facilitate written submissions from defence re sentencing guidelines
  25. Imagine if CNN covered Vybz Kartel trial & verdict the illustrations/ graphics they would employ not to mention their BREAKING NEWS banner
  26. We have always said that Gaza fans r above average intelligence.U all prove it everyday with comments. Ignore badmind ppl n keep progressing

Crime and Punishment in Jamaica

In the wake of the Vybz Kartel murder trial other cases shed light on the quality of justice dispensed by Jamaican courts.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 9.16.30 AM

Comparing and contrasting is always a useful exercise. This morning when I read the abbreviated article shown above i thought, really? Two men, Claytoday Dunkley and Garfield Litchmore, falsely accused of killing lawmen, lose 6 years of their life due to police bungling or worse, and the most the Gleaner can do is run a brief two-column report on page 2 with skeletal details of a case that seems to be a flagrant violation of human rights.  Not only that, you would only have read this article if you subscribed to the hard copy or the ePaper of the Gleaner, it wasn’t available on its website. Why not? Is it because the two concerned are labourers from Trench Town and not from Upper St. Andrew? What recourse if any do they have? Will any members of the Police be held accountable for this travesty of justice?

Buju Banton might have smiled and called this low-budget justice for low-budget people…aside from this the admission that the police apparently falsely charged the two men raises doubts about the reliability of evidence they presented against Vybz Kartel and co which as we all know ended in the conviction of the superstar DJ and three of his co-accused last week.

Juxtapose this for argument’s sake with the 2007 trial of former UWI student Rodney Beckles, accused of stabbing one  Khalil Campbell to death over a chillum pipe. On that occasion the story occupied the Gleaner’s front page, seen below, no doubt because the protagonists were both sons of ‘high-society officials’ as the headline pointed out. Rodney is the son of Sir Hilary Beckles, Principal of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus. The young man he killed was none other than the son of Justice Lennox Campbell, yes you read it right, the very Supreme Court Judge Lennox Campbell who presided over the Kartel trial. The murder took place in January 2007 and by the end of November the same year young Beckles had been acquitted, much to the relief of his parents.

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Killed over ganja – Feuding sons of high-society officials
published: Friday | January 5, 2007

AN ARGUMENT over ganja has left the son of Supreme Court judge Lennox Campbell dead and the son of principal of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus, facing a charge of murder.

Rodney Beckles, 21, whose father, Professor Hilary Beckles, was en route to Jamaica from Barbados yesterday, is now in police custody after stabbing to death Khalil Campbell, 28, of Daisy Avenue, St. Andrew.

The accused Beckles, a student at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, allegedly stabbed Campbell 21 times after an argument over the illegal substance.

Police sources say Beckles is alleged to have denied Campbell the opportunity to smoke his chillum pipe, claiming Campbell was not mentally capable of ‘handling the weed’. An altercation developed during which Beckles allegedly stabbed Campbell several times despite attempts by two other persons to restrain him.

Despite the fact that the 18 injuries were all found on the body of the victim, none on the body of the killer Beckles, a jury which deliberated for two hours (shades of the Kartel trial!) decided that the victim had been the aggressor and Beckles was acting in self-defence when he stabbed Campbell through the heart. The Star’s account of the trial described the scenario:

The jury found that Beckles was not guilty of murder or manslaughter.

Beckles who was represented by defence lawyers Patrick Atkinson, Deborah Martin and Robert Fletcher gave sworn testimony in his defence and was thoroughly cross-examined by prosecutors Caroline Hay and Ann Marie Feurtado -Richards.

Beckles said he acted in self defence after Campbell who was known to be mentally ill, rushed at him like a raging bull and held onto his foot. He said he began hitting him and when his foot was released, he saw blood on his clothes and blood on the deceased’s chest.

He said he and a friend were smoking ganja from a chalice and it was after they denied Campbell’s request for a smoke from the chalice that the incident took place.

The prosecution led evidence that there were 16 superficial injuries to the body and two stab wounds. The fatal injury was a stab wound to the chest which penetrated the heart. The pathologist said he saw defensive injuries to the body and it was his definition that the deceased was the victim and the attacker was the aggressor.

The defence brought medical evidence to show that the deceased was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and cannabis abuse and was aggressive when he did not get his medication.

So what do you think? Is the second a case of high-budget justice for high-budget people in contrast to the case of the Trenchtown labourers, Claytoday Dunkley and Garfield Litchmore? Again what does this indicate about the quality of justice meted out by Jamaican courts?

Finally was Kartel found to be guilty or was he to be found guilty by a police force and judiciary determined to make an example of him?

Justice for Keith Clarke?

A short note on the ruling in the Keith Clarke case which found 3 soldiers guilty of killing him along with two artworks depicting Clarke and the scene of his killing.

Poster of Keith Clarke by Michael Thompson
Artistic rendition of Keith Clarke’s murder by Hubert Neal Jr. June 2010

FINALLY there is some resolution of one of the horrific killings of citizens at the hands of agents of the state. The wanton murder of Keith Clarke, an accountant whose home in the hills of  Kingston was mistakenly believed by the security forces to be harbouring the fugitive Christopher Dudus Coke in May 2010, shook Jamaica. Now two years later the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn has ruled that three members of the Jamaica Defence Force are to be charged with the murder of businessman Keith Clarke. For details read this Gleaner article.

In my blogpost of May 27, 2010 I noted details of the attack on the Clarke home:

Well, the Gideon (local slang for Armageddon) continues. Last night it seemed as if things in Kingston had simmered down but this morning i checked into Twitter to hear that the armed forces were lobbing grenades and perhaps bombs at a house in E. Kirkland Heights, a very upscale neighbourhood in Red Hills, Kingston. “The template of violence in jamaica has changed ova d las week. Its now an insurgency with all the relevant weaponry” tweeted one of the people i follow. “I wanna see the police deny this one. Grenades an bombs are the new weapon of choice for the state now.”

While the DPP’s ruling may bring closure to the members of Keith Clarke’s family none is forthcoming for the Tivoli 73, the 73 (some say more) civilians killed during the military incursion into West Kingston on May 23-24, 2010. According to a news interview i heard with Terrence Williams, Commissioner of INDECOM, the body authorized to look into police misconduct, none is likely to be forthcoming either because unlike the Clarke home which was treated as a crime scene and immediately scoured for all evidence available, the environs of Tivoli Gardens were not designated a crime scene (because some claim, the civilian casualties were treated as war crimes), making it impossible two years later to identify the culprits in that massacre.

Of course as Mattathias Schwarz has indicated in his New Yorker article titled A Massacre in Jamaica the US government should be able to help by supplying video footage shot from the air on the day of the massacre by its US DEA Lockheed P-3 Orion plane.

But who knows when that will happen? It seems people in Tivoli Gardens may have to just hug up their losses and move on as far as the government is concerned. For an interesting interview with Mattathias Schwarz on the matter see here.

And in the meantime the DPP’s ruling raises more questions. Concerned citizens are asking how holding three low-ranking soldiers accountable for such a hgihly orchestrated military operation can be considered a credible outcome in this prolonged court case. The Daily Gleaner’s July 19 editorial, excerpted below, says it best:

Justice, in this case, is not only about holding to account the three soldiers who have been accused of firing the shots that killed Mr Clarke in his home more than two years ago. It includes, also, placing the spotlight on the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), so that it can view itself, hopefully with dispassion, and conclude whether it operates in a manner worthy of the public’s trust.

Mr Clarke, it is recalled, was not the victim of random circumstance. His death happened during what was supposed to have been an organised military operation.

…What is not clear is the command and control procedures that governed that operation and the rules of engagement to which the junior soldiers were subject.

The point is that Mr Clarke’s killing happened at a period of heightened tension in Jamaica. Coke was on the run and, in the face of the challenge from his gunmen and supporters, a state of emergency was in force in several parts of the island.

Against that background, we would be surprised if the search for Coke in Kirkland Heights would have been entrusted only to two JDF lance corporals and a private, without the previous knowledge of a significantly more senior commanding officer.

Should we be right, the obvious question that we expect would have been the subject of an internal review by the JDF, as well as part of INDECOM’s investigation, is what role did the commanding officer play in the sequence of events and whether he carried out his duty appropriately. In other words, are there matters for which he should be held accountable?

We believe that these are appropriate questions for which the public deserves answers, lest the cynics claim that juniors have been made fodder after an incompetent execution of an operation.

And so say all of us….

What the Police can do: Michael Sirjue, Cary Lyn-Sue and the quality of justice in Jamaica

Opening of SALISES 5050 conference with St Lucian Prime Minister Kenny Anthony who urged Jamaican judges to be less timid in their interpretation of constitutional rights, Feb 2, 2012

What a day, what a day. While i was busy taking in various activities at the SALISES 5050 Law and Justice Conference today news broke that a fugitive cop, Detective Sergeant Michael Sirjue, had fled the island after it was established in court that he had forged a witness statement in a case involving alleged leader of the Montego-Bay based Stone Crusher gang, Eldon Calvert and his brother, Gleason Calvert, and Michael Heron for the 2006 murder of cook shop operator Robert Green.

Apparently the witness statement was first flagged as false by handwriting expert and author Beverley East and corroborated by another expert who is actually a member of the police force. The witness in question, Artly Campbell, had been shot and killed. The discovery of the forgery has persuaded Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewelyn “that in the future she will ensure that statements are examined in cases, where the witness is dead or cannot be located.”

Now what’s interesting about all this is that the very first piece i posted when i created Active Voice in January 2008, my inaugural post as it were, involved another policeman, Detective Constable Cary Lyn-Sue, who had confessed to having not only manufactured a witness statement but the witness as well. What is really interesting is that Lyn-Sue’s supervisor was the self-same Det Sergeant Sirjue who is now absconding.

Fascinating isn’t it? With what passes for law and justice in this country is it any wonder that this is such a violent society? A lot of the crime plaguing us is the result of people taking the law into their own hands because the extant justice system just isn’t delivering.This is what gives rise to vigilante justice or informal justice systems presided over by dons.

Complementing this is a dishonest, unreliable police force that doesn’t hesitate to resort to criminality in the name of policing. A recipe for disaster that makes you wonder how many innocent people are languishing in prison today. It might interest you to read my post about Lyn-Sue…

An ‘Inconvenient Truth’?

Detective Constable Cary Lyn-Sue. The name will probably go down in Jamaican history in years to come; Thirty-one year old Lyn-Sue put the cat among the pigeons last week by doing something revolutionary. He told the truth. The detective constable confessed in the Montego Bay Resident Magistrate’s Court that he had fabricated witness testimony in the trial of 22-year old Jason James, allegedly a member of the Killer Bee gang.

Well, I didn’t even know such a gang existed. Lyn-Sue openly admitted that it was frustration that had driven him to invent a crown witness complete with incriminating testimony when fear prevented any actual witnesses from testifying. He was aware of various crimes committed by the accused, he said, and thought that getting James off the streets even for a day would be doing society a favour.

Speaking on Nationwide Radio’s This Morning programme the emotional constable said that he realized that his motive did not justify his deed and that he was perfectly willing to face the consequences for his crime of perjury. However he had recently converted to Christianity and found it increasingly difficult to live with what he had done. Owning up to his misdeed had made him feel good, and he felt a sense of relief, he said, even though he realized that the consequences would be dire.

There was something moving, if not awe-inspiring, about this extraordinary admission by the young policeman whose voice vibrated at times with the tension he was obviously feeling, having decided to take this lonely step of owning up to his misconduct, in a culture which appears to prefer to keep the truth behind bars or six feet under while making the sign of the cross and singing sankeys.

to read more go here

PS: As i write this I’m watching Mavado tell Entertainment Report on TVJ about his friend who was shot by a policeman some months ago at a nightclub. To date no investigation has been announced and no action taken against the policeman. Nor is any explanation forthcoming.

What law! what justice Jamaica enjoys after 50 years of independence!

Patrick Powell finally charged!

Patrick Powell finally charged with murder and a battery of other charges…

The man charged with Khajeel Mais's murder, Patrick Powell, beside his precious X6

Finally! Patrick Powell, first mentioned by the Sunday Herald, as the man who owned the X6 involved in Khajeel Mais’s killing, has been charged by the police. Now could the mainstream media provide us with the full 100? This case will go down in history as the one that completely exposed the fecklessness of Jamaican media. Fine watchdogs they are! Too fraid to bark! and toothless on top of it!

The Herald may barely be hobbling along but it has all its teeth and doesn’t hesitate to use them, which is why it’s forced to hobble…

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