Parsing Vybz Kartel’s Sentence

A pretty thorough account of the salient points of the Vybz Kartel trial along with background information.

 

Often in the course of his prolonged trial I found myself wondering if the rollercoaster life of Adidja Palmer aka Vybz Kartel was scripted by someone channeling Breaking Bad, the wildly popular American TV series about the rise and fall of a chemistry teacher turned meth dealer.  By the time the trial ended I knew it was nothing of the sort, just another wickedly original Jamaican libretto. Described by some as the country’s pre-eminent lyricist, for more than a decade Kartel ruled the roost in Jamaica as its reigning dancehall deejay (”a genre that is to the roots reggae of Bob Marley as hip-hop is to R&B”), his street cred extending far beyond Kingston, into the nooks and crannies of ghettoes all over the Caribbean, into urban America and as far away as Africa where his Gaza Empire has spawned copycats.

By late 2013 Vybz Kartel, 38, was being portrayed by the police and the justice system as Public Enemy No. 1. His fame and fortune notwithstanding, on April 3, 2014, Adidja Palmer was sentenced to life in prison with no parole possible before 35 years, after the court gave itself an extra week to determine whether the embattled DJ should be allowed to make music while incarcerated.  He had been found guilty almost 3 weeks earlier, along with three others, of the murder of one Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams, a dancer and foot soldier in the small army of roughly 30 men that constituted Vybz Kartel’s entourage. These men ensured that Kartel’’s interests were looked after and his bidding done at all times.

Courtroom runnings

It was a dramatic trial with twists and turns that kept the nation in suspense till the very end. As the Prosecution laid it out, Lizard ran afoul of the popular deejay because he and Chow, another member of the entourage, were given two of Kartel’s (illegal) guns, then failed to produce them when asked for their return.  After several futile attempts to get the guns back, Lizard and Chow were summoned to Kartel’s house where there was a confrontation between them and Kartel’s cronies. Chow managed to get away, later becoming the Prosecution’s star witness, but Lizard was bludgeoned to death.

Although the hapless dancer’s body has yet to be found Vybz Kartel and six members of his entourage were taken into police custody in September 2011. Kartel’s defence team made repeated attempts to secure bail for him but were systematically rebuffed on the grounds that the Police had good reason to believe he would try and leave the country if granted bail. Rumours were rife that the reason for this unprecedented incarceration was that the police had incontrovertible evidence, including video footage taken from the deejay’s phone, that incriminated Adidja Palmer and his co-accused.

The swirling rumours proved to be true. The trial was prosecuted largely on circumstantial evidence— involving sensational  Blackberry messages, video footage and voice notes downloaded from the deejay’s cellphone in which Kartel’s voice could be heard making threats about what he would do if the guns, coded as ‘shoes’ weren’t returned. ‘If dem want dem fren fi live dem fi return mi shoes’ he is heard to say on Voice Note 2. In other messages he asks for information on countries he might travel to, the Bahamas for instance, lending credence to the Police’s concern that he might skip bail if granted it.

The Defence team did not dispute that the voice heard in the notes was Kartel’s. Instead their strategy was to prove that the cellphones in question had not been properly secured by the police, who were careless about maintaining the chain of custody, making it possible for the notes to have been tampered with or manipulated. They also proved that other key items of evidence such as a backup disc provided by the phone company and a notebook belonging to a policeman witness had gone missing. They were able to show also that Kartel’s phone had been used three hours after being taken into police custody.

The long and tension-filled trial lasted nearly four months, ending suddenly on March 13, on the sixth day of the Judge’s summation, after a juror was accused of attempting to bribe the foreman of the jury and fellow jurors. Despite this dramatic development, which might have derailed the case had the Judge called for a mistrial, the trial was hastily concluded with the jury delivering a ten to one guilty verdict.

Judge Lennox Campbell’s instructions to the jury explained the legal doctrine to be used in deciding Vybz Kartel’s guilt—that of common design. After all there was no direct evidence to prove that the deejay himself had participated in the murder. As Judge Campbell explained “…The scope was to kill Clive Lloyd Williams for the loss of a firearm. The law of Common Design is – as long as you participate knowing that was the ultimate end it doesn’t matter that you didn’t pull the trigger; it doesn’t matter that you didn’t wield the knife; it doesn’t matter that you didn’t administer the poison. Common Design can encompass a person at a gate as look out man for the police. As long as he’s there to look out, he can be charged for murder.”

The kind of security put in place by the Jamaican Police on the day of the verdict and again on the day of the sentencing, suggested that this was the trial of someone far more important than a mere music personality.  The Police blocked major roads leading to the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston, placed Police personnel in riot gear at strategic points and patrolled the area around the court with mounted Police. The diminutive Judge, known informally as Little Lenny, appeared in court flanked by four bodyguards.

During the final days of the trial American rapper Busta Rhymes attended court in a show of support for Vybz Kartel. Notably absent was anyone from the local music fraternity among whose ranks there did not appear to be much sympathy for the beleaguered DJ or sorrow over his fate. Although a large crowd had appeared outside the courtroom shouting ‘No Teacha, No school’ on the day of the verdict (a reference to Kartel ‘s nickname–‘The Teacher’) and the days leading up to it, on sentencing day there was only a modest crowd in attendance outside. The elaborate preparations made by the Police seemed like overkill.

#VybzKartel still represents #Calabar, as seen in this photo taken today after his sentencing #VybzKartel still represents #Calabar, as seen in this photo taken today after his sentencing
Vybz Kartel still represents his old high school Calabar, as seen in this photo taken today after his sentencing. Photo: @Dre1allianceEnt

 Vybz Kartel: DJ or Don? or both?

So what was the secret of Vybz Kartel’s success I asked Anthony Miller, producer of Television Jamaica’s weekly Entertainment Report, the definitive news source on Jamaica’s volatile music industry. His answer was:

The smartness, the nimbleness of mind; Kartel could string words together. In terms of that hip hop flow, spitting lyrics, he was the quickest and the nimblest and easily the most brilliant. He was the lyrical genius of his generation who flooded the Jamaican market with music. He delivered the social commentary but he also gave the public fun and games with his song about Clarks shoes (which caused a spike in sales for the company) and Ramping Shop which was banned from Jamaican airwaves for its raunchy lyrics. He outraged every sensibility in Jamaica and then he started to bleach. He always had an avalanche of new material. But there was also a sinister element, a darker element. He overreached by flying in the face of the establishment in Jamaica, by continually goading them. He always flew in the face of authority.

Opinions about Vybz Kartel vary depending on the demographic of the person you’re speaking to. Nicknamed World Boss and Addi the Teacher or ‘Teacha’ by his adoring fans his phenomenal popularity made him the envy of politicians though he didn’t kowtow to their demands. On the other hand Kartel was known to hobnob with top dons or gang leaders like Tesha Miller of the Klansman gang and Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke whose sensational arrest and extradition to the United States occupied international news for weeks in 2010.

“A lot of DJs see themselves as dons; the don is the model, so they behave like dons. Dons have the power, they have the girls and DJs are in the best position to become dons because they have the constituencies, “ says Anthony Miller.

According to ethnomusicologist Dennis Howard the nexus between political dons and musicians in Jamaica goes back to the very roots of Reggae and Dancehall. It was a symbiotic relationship, the musician needed the support of the don who often demanded a ‘big up’ while the don fed off the popularity of the singer. The globally celebrated singer Bob Marley himself was friends with a number of dons/gang leaders across the political divide so Kartel’s association with gang leaders and the underworld was by no means unprecedented. The problem was that with Kartel there no longer appeared to be a distinction between the two.

In 2009 when Vybz Kartel fans (Gaza) clashed violently with rival deejay Mavado’s fans (Gully), the two were summoned to a meeting with then Prime Minister Bruce Golding but the only person who could rein them in was Prezi–short for President– Tivoli Gardens enforcer Dudus who forced the two deejays to publicly end their hostilities at his annual stage show ‘West Kingston Jamboree’.

While Mavado seemed to heed the pleas of the government and the Police to reform himself Kartel continued along the path he had chosen, thumbing his nose at the police and Jamaican society while continuing to parlay his carefully cultivated notoriety into profits. He now diversified into other products such as a line of clothing, bleaching soap and his own rum. Perhaps the last straw for the police was the much hyped launch of Kartel’s own show, Teacha’s Pet, “a reality TV dating show surrounding the love life and career of the Artiste Vybz Kartel.” Within a few weeks of the airing of the show Kartel was arrested and the show discontinued.

Public Enemy No. 1

Why were the Jamaican police so single-minded in their determination to put Vybz Kartel behind bars? Why was he considered such a menace to society? Again stories abound. The Minister of Justice, Peter Bunting, had been touring Montego Bay, center of the vicious Lotto Scam conglomerate, which preys on elderly American citizens, scamming them out of thousands of dollars of their savings each year. In fact the Minister was under pressure from the Americans to smash the criminal enterprise. As he visited area after area he was told by residents in each community that he should go easy on the scammers because what they were doing was, after all, merely a form of reparation–collecting monies due the citizens of Jamaica for the years of free labour provided during the era of plantation slavery.

When the astonished Minister enquired further into the source of such unorthodox views he was referred to a song by Kartel called ‘Reparation’ with the catchy refrain ‘Dem call it scam,
Mi call it reparation’.

Foreign exchange is good fi di country
Franklyn, USA, Sterling England
Every Ghetto yute fi a live like di big man
Mansion bigger than Hilton

The catchy tune was even quoted by American TV host Dan Rather in a 60 Minutes expose of Jamaica’s Lotto Scam, adding to the pressure on the Jamaican government to rein in the criminal elements who were preying on America’s elderly. Although Kartel’s lyrics were never explicitly used against him in the trial, they would have been on virtually constant rotation in the minds of the Judge, Jury and Prosecution. In addition to the song about Reparations there were any number of gangster lyrics issuing from the prolific hit machine known as Vybz Kartel.

Perhaps the thing that most cemented Kartel’s image as a demonic creature who had to be contained for the safety of the public was his unconventional appearance, aided by the increasingly visible tattoos embellishing his bleached skin. This more than anything literally marked Kartel as a devil-worshipper in the eyes of fundamentalist Christian Jamaica. As if he realized this, Kartel addressed the issue as soon as he was given a chance to speak for himself in court.

My Lord, I bleach my skin, I am heavily tattooed also but that is merely superficial. That is a part of the persona of Vybz Kartel not Adidja Palmer. I am a normal person like anyone else.

In interviews Kartel would often refer to himself in the third person, drawing a distinction between himself, Adidja Palmer, the responsible father and citizen and his more reckless deejay persona, Vybz Kartel. There was a market demand for a character such as Vybz Kartel, he explained, and Palmer was going to exploit the lucrative niche—after all he had children to feed.  His 2012 book, The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto, begins by saying, “I start this book in the same way that I start each day of my life, with a Thank you Jah for giving me, Adidja Palmer, the inspiration to be Vybz Kartel. “

Gaza

Inspired by Jay-Z’s 2010 autobiographical narrative, Decoded, Kartel’s book, co-written with Michael Dawson, is a combination of lyrics, their interpretations, anecdotes, philosophical reflections, and autobiographical information. Written very much in the mode of a teacher analyzing and explaining the world, it was also a resounding call–Gaza mi seh!–for ghetto people everywhere to get together and stand up for their rights. “Its not a moral war, it’s a financial war, dem nuh waan ghetto yute fi have house n car,” goes the catchy line from one of his songs. “Incarcerated but not silenced” and “I pray this book helps to change Jamaica forever,” say blurbs on the cover with an image portraying Kartel as a Malcolm X type figure.

Some think the book was published because Palmer knew he had to lay the groundwork to shift public perception of himself as a common criminal. That may be so but in the process he managed to harness a cynicism about the system—coded as Babylon in Jamaican parlance—that has great currency. Though his music is viewed as having no explicit political message his concept of ‘Gaza’ has the resonance that rival DJ Mavado’s ‘Gully’ never had though both are metaphors for the underclass that spawned both musicians.

Vybz Kartel flashes the ‘Gaza’ sign as he exits the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston yesterday. The entertainer was given life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 35 years for his role in the August 2011 murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams. (PHOTO: BRYAN CUMMINGS)
Vybz Kartel flashes the ‘Gaza’ sign as he exits the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston yesterday. The entertainer was given life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 35 years for his role in the August 2011 murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams. (JAMAICA OBSERVER PHOTO: BRYAN CUMMINGS)

Gaza is the name Kartel gave the locality he comes from in Waterford, part of the bedroom community of Portmore, on the outskirts of Kingston. Inspired by the fierceness of the inhabitants of the original Gaza Strip in Palestine, Kartel adopted the name of this embattled settlement in the Middle East, and the shibboleth of his supporters around the world became Gaza mi seh! Usain Bolt has been one of Kartel’s most avid fans not allowing other deejay’s music to be played at his parties and giving the Gaza sign whenever he was in the limelight. Many of Jamaica’s top athletes are Gaza fans though they may be slowly backing away now.

Perhaps the best way to understand Gaza is to see it as a new identity–underpinned by a Ghetto pride ideology–a defiant “Yes, we’re from the ghetto and we’re proud of it” stance. Although Kartel intended Gaza as a response to the lopsided landscape of opportunity in Jamaica that renders the poor socially invisible, the concept rapidly grew legs and migrated all over the world, an indication both of his talent and the globalization of inequality that disproportionately affects ghetto-dwellers worldwide.

The ‘Shit-stem’

While the Jamaican judiciary jubilantly celebrated Vybz Kartel’s guilty verdict and sentencing as a resounding victory for itself it is worth noting that alleged crime boss and head of the Shower Posse Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, now serving a 23 year sentence in the US,  was never charged or prosecuted for breaching the law in Jamaica where he lived. Similarly David Smith, who defrauded investors across Florida and the Caribbean out of more than US$220 million was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison in the US. Although he operated out of Jamaica, Smith like Coke, was never charged or prosecuted for any crime or misdemeanor in Jamaica.

And then less than a week after the guilty verdict was announced in the Kartel case, Kern Spencer, a young politician belonging to the ruling party, was found not guilty of significant fraud and money-laundering charges in relation to the distribution of energy-saving light bulbs, a gift from the Cuban Government. The Director of Public Prosecutions herself expressed shock at the verdict saying that the evidence against him had been overwhelming. But for most people the Kern Spencer verdict was par for the course. You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of politicians, police and big businessmen who have ever been convicted of any crime in Jamaica.

Jamaican Police and the country’s legal system now have to prove to cynical Jamaicans that they not only have the will and drive to successfully bring rogue DJs to book but also the numerous rogue policemen, politicians and businessmen still at large. If not, as Kartel’s song ’Sup’m a go happen’ warns Jamaica could be on the brink, like Egypt, like Tunisia before it, of ‘something happening’.

Kartel’s defence team will now prepare to appeal the verdict and the sentence. For them what was unique about this trial was the unprecedented use of digital evidence by the Prosecution. The irony of course is that had Kartel simply used a code to lock his phone the Police could never have got into it to find the incriminating evidence they did. The deejay’s lead attorney Tom Tavares-Finson told me days before the sentencing that he expected Kartel to be sentenced to 35 years. They were already focused on the appeal. Tavares-Finson is hopeful that since he has been requesting and receiving transcripts of the court’s proceedings on a daily basis, he has about 80% of what will be needed to mount the appeal in hand already. He thinks Adidja Palmer stands a good chance of having the guilty verdict overturned by the higher court and his client is of the same mind. As the twitter account known as Adidja A. Palmer @iamthekartel tweeted:

GazaArmy. we nuh deh pon nuh mourning ting .Addi said “Justice how ever long it takes will prevail,a so Haile Selassie sey.”so we a move fwd

POSTSCRIPT: Since the sentencing of Adidja ‘Vybz Kartel’ Palmer and his co-accused on April 3 there have been some interesting developments. The very same day the Police High Command issued a statement detailing among other things the security challenges they had faced in the course of the trial and the numerous “attempts to pervert the course of justice” they had been confronted with. It now is much clearer why they were so determined to put Adidja Palmer behind bars.

Another interesting piece of information came from Shawn Storm’s attorney Miguel Lorne, who revealed that his client had been offered a plea bargain that would have resulted in a much reduced sentence for him. His client turned down the offer, sticking by Vybz Kartel and in the process, also receiving a life sentence.

And yes it’s true. Kartel’s lawyer, Christian Tavares-Finson IS the half-brother of Junior Gong or Damian, Bob Marley’s youngest son. Lead attorney Thomas Tavares-Finson who headed the defence team was once married to Cindy Breakspeare, whose son with Bob Marley he helped raise. Tom and Cindy have two children of their own, Christian and Leah. Incidentally Tavares-Finson Sr. is a highly sought after criminal lawyer with a star-studded list of former clients such as Grace Jones, Gregory Isaacs, Big Youth, Bounty Killer, Mavado, Sean Paul and Shabba Ranks, who retained him to defend them against charges ranging from cocaine possession to ‘using profanity’, a uniquely Jamaican offence. In more recent times Tavares-Finson, also an Opposition Senator, was most wanted Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke’s lawyer until forced to step aside due to his political obligations.

Life for Vybz Kartel…

Selected tweets from the day of Vybz Kartel’s sentencing, April 3, 2014

I will be putting up a more substantial post soon about the sentencing of Vybz Kartel. In the meantime here’s a selection of tweets from earlier today that will give you a feel of what the mood was like today at the Supreme Court and outside it.

  1. Wonder how much ppl aguh put Gaza 4 Life pon dem TL n Facebook today? True loyalty is shown during times of adversity
  2. Attorney for #ShawnStorm now seeking mercy on his behalf. Kartel has asked lawyers not to seek mercy from the Court#SentencingHearing
  3. “This has never been an easy part of any trial for me” – Justice Lennox Campbell
  4. Trust me Gaza Army this thing not over. VYBZ Kartel will be a free man in due time n we aguh Mek sure dem hear him voice up to the time
  5. “We have heard evidence that there was a great deal of planning and premeditation and the deceased was subjected to much stress” – Judge
  6. Planning, premeditation and lot of stress for the deceased says Lennox Campbell #KartelSentencing
  7. The Court recognizes that the offenders had different roles – Judge Campbell. Convicts now asked to stand
  8. Him ask Addi n crew to stand
  9. BREAKING: Kartel sentenced to life in imprisonment with hard labour. Not eligible for parole before 35 years – @Nationwideradio
  10. #courtroomchronicles there r police barriers everywhere. Even lawyers are being stopped n asked if they have matters at court today
  11. Breaking – Kartel sentenced to LIFE!
  12. Breaking – judge says Life for #Kartel. 35 yrs to be spent before eligible for parole #KartelSentencing
  13. Breaking – Shawn Storm gets life. 25 years before eligible for parole#KartelSentencing
  14. Dem sentence mi Bredda @iamthekartel to LIFE without parole for 35 years.
  15. As expected, Adidja Palmer is sentenced to LIFE.
  16. “Stay Strong” That is the message Addi ask me to pass on to the GazaArmy. 1 more time, Addi Anuh Girl Guide, him a souljah.
  17. @nnboogie I told the guys at the gym that Judge will give life sans parole 35-40 years …they thought I was being unrealistic …
  18. @nnboogie they were looking at 20 to 25 ..but Judge was always going to sentence with a heavy hand, especially if one doesn’t big for mercy
  19. It is not over Gaza Army. It is not over. Certain details we have to hold back but this is just a obstacle on the road to freedom
  20. So can Kartel still produce music in prison?
  21. Bury dancehall today. The best and worst of it gone.
  22. We had a break in his meeting to reveal the news in the Kartel trial
  23. Mi… Dutty big black barry….write the best blag post bout kartel roun 3 year ago. And it come to pass http://bigblackbarry.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/the-issue-of-mr-adijah-palmer/ …
  24. Poor Parliament. They should have deferred the #ThroneSpeech. Kartel is more newsworthy.
  25. I see u watch the news “@DMarcAnthony@nnboogie@thelockedwonder “Yeah.. but is not like seh is wan big person iina society him did kill.””
  26. The fact that the #KartelSentencing takes precedence over parliament shows our faith in the system.
  27. It was my first blog post ever. Science…
  28. I now propose that the Govt allow Kartel to record in prison for 60% of revenue. Kartel to pay his incarceration expenses out of his 40%
  29. The trajectory of every #JaThroneSpeech is the same! Tell the people how poorly the world economy is performing.
  30. Addi never asked for nor expected anything else from the system that facilitated his conviction despite missing n tampered evidence
  31. Based on the sentence handed down today, if Kartel’s conviction is upheld in the Appeals Court, he will be 73 years old before parole.
  32. He shouldn’t do music – shet it dung
  33. Defence lawyers for Kartel say they expect to file his appeal by year end
  34. Angry Kartel crowd chanting Kartel wi sehh .. being monitored by Policepic.twitter.com/kD8JzPVe5T
  35. Absolutely crazy scenes downtown.
  36. Women rolling in the street and wailing at the #KartelLifeSentence
  37. Gaza 4 Life! Empire Foreva !
  38. Baddest dj ever in the genre. Ever. I still hold to that.
  39. Not his fan, but Vybz Kartel was a lyricist, visionary entrepreneur, and marketing expert. He is also a convicted murderer. #DealWithIt
  40. kartel shoulda jumped on one a them haitian boats when he had the chance
  41. When yu give a man life sentence eitha him give him life to god In prison or him stay behind bars & instigate heinous crimes on outsiders
  42. #courtroomchronicles …it is over ..for now. An appeal is imminent. This is where it all happened ..…  http://instagram.com/p/mVeEQbMRFM/ 
  43. #courtroomchronicles crowd around court. Shouts of “free kartel” “a nuh angel him kill” “dis affi re-try” can be heard. Police everywhere
  44. #courtroomchronicles one lady shouts, “look how di police kill di pregnant ooman and neva get 35 yrs!” ..for them #justice is blind & unfair
  45. #courtroomchronicles one man shouts “look oomuch ppl do worse dan him! All di politician and judge weh drive bad and kill ppl pon di road!!”
  46. #courtroomchronicles For them, it’s abt 2 societies, 2 justice systems. One for the rich & privileged. The other for the black ghetto youths
  47. WHO is gonna tell me My baddi set good like di ice inna freezer and mek mi believe it?! WHO?
  48. GazaArmy. we nuh deh pon nuh mourning ting .Addi said “Justice how ever long it takes will prevail,a so Haile Selassie sey.”so we a move fwd
  49. Kartel attended court today in a white jacket suit and a Calabar High shirt and tie, apparently celebrating the Champs win of his alma mater
  50. #VybzKartel still represents #Calabar, as seen in this photo taken today after his sentencing pic.twitter.com/nbPGIY9PXL

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.

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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?

Vybz Kartel found guilty of murder

A selection of tweets, including from reps of the accused, immediately before, during and after the tension-filled moments leading up to the jury’s verdict of guilty against Kartel and three of his four co-accused. Includes video of Lizard Williams dancing.

Photo by William Richards http://www.williamrichardsphotography.com


Dec 13, 2013 newscast on Kartel trial detailing video and bbm evidence presented by prosecution

Well, i was wrong. I fully believed that Kartel and co. would walk; because of the weakness of Jamaica’s justice system,  the strength of the defence team, and because the powerful are rarely tried, let alone found guilty in this society. But no! In a dramatic, rapidly unfolding denouement yesterday afternoon the nearly 3-month old Kartel trial came to an emotion-filled climax. Amidst rumours that one of the jurors, ‘No. 3’ to be precise, had tried to offer the jury’s headwoman a J$500,000 bribe, the jury decided 10 to 1 that Kartel, and three of his four co-accused were guilty of the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams, a young dancer whose body has yet to be found.

Lizard’s sister, Stephanie Breakenridge, sat in the courtroom sobbing every now and then as the final moments arrived. In all of the circus around this celebrity court case her brother, seen in the video above dancing and bigging up the Gaza Empire, had been virtually forgotten in the media coverage of the trial, except perhaps as its subject, in cold, clinical terms. His terror-filled texts had been read to the courtroom earlier in the trial but otherwise very little was known of the young man who thought his moment in the sun had arrived the day he was adopted by Kartel and his group.

Word on the verandahs is that the DPP Paula Llewellyn, Judge Campbell, Prosecutor Jeremy Taylor and his team were determined to use this case to showcase the ability of the Jamaican court system to deliver justice, surely if not swiftly. I congratulate them on their determination to demonstrate that justice is not as elusive in Jamaica as many of us have been led to believe…let’s hope the Kartel trial sets the bar for all trials in Jamaica from now on.

As Dah’Mion Blakey said on Facebook: The same rigor with which this case was pursued should be extended to ALL; uptown, downtown, popular, unpopular and indifferent!! #‎JudicialReform‬ ‪#‎SocialJusticeForAll‬

Finally, many of us thought that Kartel would have got off because the jury would have felt too intimidated to find him guilty. Clearly they didn’t. This too was something the DPP must have been keen on establishing, to signal to potential jurors and a timorous public that the all-abiding fear that curtails the carriage of justice too often is perhaps overstated and unnecessary. Of course we have to wait and see and hope that none of the jurors face repercussions for their decision.

Below is a curated collection of tweets that will convey the atmosphere yesterday in Kingston, especially downtown where the Supreme Court is located. There are tweets by @Iamthekartel, a Twitter account supposedly speaking for Kartel, along with many others which capture the climax of this sensational court case.

Finally, thanfully, nxt wk this time Adidja Azim Palmer will be tweeting from this account so beta start follo him from now
Best Male Actor in a supporting role, Shawn Storm. From The Series #KartelMurderTrial
When Kartel gets acquitted he gonna be walking out like… #KartelMurderTrial pic.twitter.com/fX4yOzR8Sb
Busta need a day job. Him tun courthouse tetes
We a keep it orderly, nah give the police r media nutten bad fi say bout the Gaza btwn now and the nxt 72 hrs when we expec Addi to walk out
“Mi Bible de near me,” – Vybz Kartel
Appealing to 2 Police,designate a section near the Courthouse where Gazafans can wait in peace 4 d verdict No bada style d people n bloc dem
“Give me a chance fi talk pon poor people behalf” Vybz Kartel.
“Its not a moral war, its a financial war, dem nuh waan ghetto yute fi have house n car.” Vybz Kartel
Breaking – judge in #KartelMurderTrial threatens to take action against Kartel’s lawyer if he interrupts his summing up again
My word – I suggest you walk with an id if you intend to be in downtown KGN as of tomorrow. It’s getting frantic #KartelMurderTrial
Bigup the Legendary Junior Reid 4 his presence in Court today alongside the Legendary @BustaRhymes. Babylon a c the ratings Addi get.
If court starts on time, judge could use another 2 hrs to close summing up & then discharge jury #KartelMurderTrial
But, court has never started on time. May be this will be the once in a blue moon. #KartelMurderTrial
Pot cover, light, horn, shout, ilebrate how u want but keep it legal cuz Babylon nah play today.
5 accused 11 jurors 30 witnesses 65 days so far 6th day of summing up #KartelMurderTrial
Kartel supporters downtown have breached the barrier on Barry Street and have been shouting ‘no Teacha,no school’
Lawyers have been summoned to judge’s chamber. Tension inside; Tension outside. No hallelujah in the middle #KartelMurderTrial
One more time, we have to keep calm. Keep it safe n peaceful
Who would have thunk it. Jury sent to deliberate at 3:42 PM #KartelMurderTrial
Mi a ready up fi di new tune dem fi drown out dis Soca madness!! What will it be…#KartelMurderTrial
The global impact of ONE case in Jamaica. #KartelMurderTrial #Jamaica #Barbados #USA # Canada #Kenya # Indonesia #Waiting to hear
UPDATE: Still awaiting Judge. Tom Tavares Finson has just asked the registrar – “unnu sen fa di Judge” ? ..still waiting
Crazy! “@emilynationwide: Calm on the inside now. Tension on the outside #KartelMurderTrial pic.twitter.com/oS8nvAReHx
#courtroomchronicles the room is filled with prosecutors ..DPP is here, all her #gladiators ..no defence counsel in the room. #vktrial
Jury still out for a second time because they told court a moment ago they have a majority verdict of 10:1 #KartelMurderTrial
#courtroomchronicles ..Some have said the verdict is guilty ..10 to 1 ..There is talk that there is a new world bawse in town tonight ..
IF YOU SUPPORT OR LISTEN TO KARTEL THERE’S NO WAY A GUILTY VERDICT IS ACCEPTABLE! THE BOSS MUST BE FREE #KartelMurderTrial
#courtroomchronicles ..November has led to this ..I have never seen so many prosecutors in court .. where are defence counsel? ?
#courtroomchronicles I see Barbara Gayle ..Anthony Miller ..A host of local and international journalists ..defence counsel now appear ..
#courtroomchronicles ..The judge is flanked by 4 police officers on the bench ..never seen that b4 either ..what a bumbo today .. #vktrial
I would love to see a log of all the tweets on #KartelMurderTrial ..#VeryInteresting
“A phone went off in the court, and it was a vybz Kartel ringtone” #KartelMurderTrial #tvjnews
So the verdict is that there was no verdict? #KartelMurderTrial.
#courtroomchronicles ..one police says she is like a tree planted by the rivers of Jordan . She has nuttn yo fear , as accused men walk in
#Update A press personality ejected from court after phone rings with Vybz Kartel Ringtone #KartelMurderTrial
#courtroomchronicles ..kartel dons an epic blue tie, white shirt and dark suit ..The room is filled ..all jurors present ..
Up listening to nationwide radio when I should be writing essays and there’s still no unanimous vote… #KartelMurderTrial
Vybz Kartel has been found Gulity! Sean Storm has been found Guitly. #KartelMurderTrial
But all of Juici celebrated.. And screamed.. Thought it was a rat.. #KartelMurderTrial
Shane Williams acquitted
BREAKING: Shane Williams told he is free to go. Kartel and 3 co-accused will shortly be cuffed and carried away. They’ve been found GUILTY
#courtroomchronicles judge: I thk u n say on behalf of jamaican ppl, thank u for having served so well. Judge now asks DPP to address court
A soh di ting set, yu duh di CRIME jus duh di TIME Rasta! #KartelMurderTrial #WorldBossForBleaching
Judge to jury-‘i will say this u couldn’t have done anything else on this evidence presented here. It was not possible’ #KartelMurderTrial
Sentencing to take place March 27, 2014 #SentencingDay
Looooool”@UWISTAT_MONA: So the possibility of a second Vybz Kartel Lecture at UWI (Mona) was just thrown out the window. #KartelMurderTrial
#courtroomchronicles ..Taylor walks away ..he gives no comment ..DPP however is being interviewed ..she didn’t walk away .. *facepalm*
Pple unfollowing Emily Crooks like she be the reason Kartel in jail #KartelMurderTrial
#courtroomchronicles ..anxiety fills the corridors now ..The police will arrest a juror ..it is alleged he tried to bribe foreman ..
I wonder how ova Waterford stay….. #KartelMurderTrial
#Breaking – Vybz Kartel is guilty – Juror accused of bribing 500K #KartelMurderTrial – Developing pic.twitter.com/EwzZIVnalp
#courtroomchronicles police are everywhere ..we haven’t yet made our way to the streets ..The air is uncertain ..what will supporters do
#courtroomchronicles …loud noises now being heard in the vicinity of the courthouse as news of the verdict spreads thru the streets
NOW -Shouts coming from Tower Street now ‘we waan Kartel’ Police closing in on the crowd gathered there
Mi nuh see one mothercunt big dancehall artiste ah tweet bout #KartelMurderTrial/#KartelVerdictReaction. Dem in shock or dem happy?
Busta Rhymes was no help lol #KartelMurderTrial
#courtroomchronicles ..one lady says “free world bawse ..A him seh bleaching and ah bleaching we seh” …
The sad thing is that the #Endometriosis march won’t even get mentioned because of the #KartelMurderTrial
Juror alleged to have attempted to bribe another juror now detained by the police #KartelMurderTrial
People, we have to respect the justice system. Allow Kartel Lawyers to file the appeal. Let peace reign.
Police directing traffic away from King Street now as bottles are being thrown – police say
How many years are we possibly looking at for each of the accused according to our laws @thelockedwonder ?
Give thnx 4 the support. Give thnx to the lawyers. Be safe; dont give the law any reason to be upset. Gaza 4 life! Empire Foreva! One Love.
Suh since the Police were so confident and diligent and resilient in THIS CASE, We can assume from yah suh on dem ago be dat way every case?
@Uncle_Wil 25 to life …and based on judge’s comments …well, I guess we will know soon..
If anybody thinks #KartelMurderTrial verdict will change #dancehall they are crazy. The music wasn’t on trial. It’s like hip-hop
@Uncle_Wil the appeal will also raise some very interesting points ..including chain of custody, police tampering with evidence, bias etc
#VybzKartel found guilty! Was at Supreme Court until short time ago. Find my piece in tomorrow’s #Gleaner. #KartelMurderTrial
@Uncle_Wil So hope is not lost to the fans …time will tell …it will be very interesting to see how the court of appeal deal with issues
Wasted my good good obeah on that trial— dammit. #GuiltyWorldBoss #KartelMurderTrial pic.twitter.com/Nsp8ffpG64
Thx for the overwhelming support. Gaza nuh weak. Who want to be happy n proud that a man gone jail under these circumstances, good 4 them.

A Taste of the Vybz Kartel Trial live and by Twitter…

Following the Vybz Kartel murder trial live and on Twitter.

Vybz vs. Kartel: Defending the Controversial Dancehall Star

So I finally made it to the Vybz Kartel Murder Trial this week. Jamaican DJ Kartel and his four co-accused are charged with the murder of Clive Williams aka Lizard, an associate who apparently borrowed two guns from the DJ and was subsequently unable to return them. It is alleged that in retaliation he was murdered by the DJ and his accomplices. In an unprecedented move Kartel and company have been held without bail for two and a half years, while rumours have swirled that the Police had incontrovertible evidence of Lizard’s murder at the hands of Kartel and his friends (despite the fact that to this day Lizard’s body has not been found). The evidence was said to be in the form of text messages, voice messages and videos found on cell phones belonging to the DJ that were taken into custody by the Police when he was arrested on 29 September 2011. There was also a series of text messages sent by Lizard Williams to his girlfriend saying that he feared for his life and begging her to inform the police.

Although some people, like my friend Peter Dean Rickards, remain skeptical of such evidence (“If someone preppin’ to murder me the last thing I’m going to be doing is sending txt messages…maybe I’m different,” he tweeted and “1) we’re talking about Jamaica here 2) no matter where it is, if you are looking at someone getting ready to kill you…do you send txt messages or do something a little more urgent?”) quite a few people have made up their minds that the entertainer is guilty of the crimes he’s accused of. So much for the accused being considered innocent until proven guilty.

Even though a couple of journalists, Emily Crooks for example, have been expertly tweeting the proceedings each day I wanted to observe the trial live and direct for myself. I particularly wanted to see Kartel’s defence lawyer Tom Tavares-Finson in action but as luck would have it I picked a day when he had just finished cross examining a key witness and wasn’t scheduled to be on. Not only that, it turned out to be the very day when the proceedings were so dull and plodding that Kartel himself fell asleep after lunch (see Emily’s tweets below).

Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed being in court on Wednesday to witness Pierre Rodgers (co-accused Sean Storm’s attorney) systematically pick apart Detective Sergeant Patrick Linton’s testimony. Linton is the former head of the Cybercrimes Unit who downloaded and presented the evidence collected from Kartel’s phones. While waiting for a legal friend to arrive to take me into Courtroom 2 where the Kartel trial was scheduled, I bucked up Supreme Court Judge Bryan Sykes who assured me that I needed no such escort, having a right as a member of the public to attend the trial. That may be true in theory, but in reality entry wasn’t easy.

Had I not been escorted by a legal heavyweight the four heavy set plainclothes policemen outside the courtroom who interrogated us while barring entry would have intimidated me enough to make me leave. Having finally breached the hallowed theatre of justice I was surprised at how small the courtroom was, and intimate; i found myself seated about six feet away from Kartel and within spitting distance of the jury. The DJ wore a shocking pink shirt and orange tie and held a matching orange handkerchief that he occasionally squeezed or twisted in his hands.

I don’t know if there were any other members of the public there, the seats were mostly taken up by plain clothes policeman nattily dressed in suits with different coloured ties and lawyers in their John Crow like robes. Not all the lawyers present were involved with the case, many of them were attending court cases of their own and slipped in and out when time permitted. Legatus Maximus, whose live tweets from the trial i had followed the day before turned out to be one such lawyer.

For those interested in getting a taste of this case and the courtroom action I’ve assembled below a series of tweets from the account of the person tweeting on behalf of Vybz Kartel under the twitter handle @Iamthekartel, followed by some of @Emilynationwide and Legatus Maximus’s tweets capturing some of the action. The main strategy of the Defence this week has been to shake the credibility of Det Sergeant Linton by suggesting that the evidence under his custody was tampered with and unreliable. For a verbatim transcript of the chilling voice notes presented as evidence by the police and much more see Emily Crooks’s blog thecrooksofthematter.

  1. iamthekartel
    Remember dat Babylon have a lot riding on dis case dont xpect them to do the decent thing n admit there is not enuff of a case to continue
  2. Moonie deh home already. One more soon fwd not guilty anyday now. 1 by 1 d whole Gaza crew a fwd home.
  3. Even when not performing, vybzkartel get the most fwd at Sting. Think him need to charge 4 using his name for a Dj to get a fwd
  4. 2014, the yr of freedom.
  5. Incarcerated in 2011.Still gettin nominated 4 awards in 2014!No other human being on the planet can claim that.That is y dem fear d worlboss
  6. 2014 is a landmark year. If allowed the system will pass laws to kill dancehall. Bare jazz fest and Carnival n maybe even some opera fi we
  7. The case is the Crown vs Kartel; no 1 shud b shocked that a ruling by a judge wud favor the CROWN .But all that matters is d jury’s decision
  8. @Warren_Weir This is y d boss sey @Warren_Weir a 1 of d realest yute bout d place. Waterford, cbar n then intl greatness-same path as d boss
  9. An accused by any other name than Adidja Palmer would be home now based on the strange occurrences in this case. pic.twitter.com/9rqHRBMKJI
  10. Warning, this is not a practical joke. This really happened  http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=50459 …. Babylon inform n investigate the passing of a sweetie.
  11. Downtown roads bloc 4 Tessanne official Homecoming tonite.Bigup Tessanne.Wonda how d road dem a aguh stay wen d worlboss ready fi drive home
  12. Stop try blame everything that hapn bad inna Jamaica pon d Gaza. Yes, we confess to mek nuff man gyal give dem bun wid we but a jus we that
  13. “What you have brought to Court is rubbish!!” says the Defence Attorney to the Police in the witness box. Finally sum1 calls a spade a spade
  14. How many ways can Babylon b wrong? Wrong house,wrong dna,wrong name, wrong CD,wrong date of birth,wrong spelling,MUST equal WRONGLY ACCUSED
  15. Not much longer now Gazaarmy. Time running out pon dem. Expect dem to get more desperate n tunup d story telln. But the jury no foolfool
  16. Evidence is like an opinion. One is free to present what they want the jury to believe. Jury will hear both sides n decide what is real.
  17. Back to Court. Few days more before the defence get their turn.
  18. Fair trial includes only using evidence that is in no way exposed to possible tampering.Cuz of Addi d worl see how JA courts work. #fairness
  19. Gaza Fans. Take this seriously. As certain things in this case is clearly being exposed anything name or support Gaza is a target.
  20. From Kentucky Kid to Agana Barnett to Michael Gayle to this. This case shows wat Ghetto yutes have gone thru with d Ja injustice system
  21. Wrong date, wrong machine, wrong terminology, improper chain of custody, no gloves, no dna, no fingerprint – n d man dem still inna jail????
  22. Gaza Army beg u pray fi every ghetto yute inna jail goin to face JA injustice system. From 1865 to Jan 31, 2014 – no justice fi ghetto yutes
  23. Length of court proceedings forces #Kartel to nod off in court. Judge asks ‘accused Palmer is he still before court’ #KartelMurderTrial
  24. #Kartel‘s head was down on his knee making it difficult for the judge to see him. The prosecutor who was on his feet replied…
  25. Taylor – ‘My Lord he is either praying or sleeping’ forcing police in court to awake #Kartel from his afternoon snooze
  26. #KartelMurderTrial updates coming soon. However lawyer for #Kartel, Tom Tavares Finson has just informed me his expert has been detained
  27. Breaking-Phillipots Martin, who’s been charged w hacking DIGI data base is reportedly the expert used by #Kartel‘s lawyers
  28. Major showdown today between bench & bar ie judge and lawyer for #Kartel, Tom Tavares Finson #KartelMurderTrial
  29. Finson objected to Sgt Linton reading a message to jury. He said message read was diff fr what court heard when jury was out today
  30. Finson- ‘My Lord, that is not what was shown when jury was out’ Taylor (prosecutor) ‘this is exactly as in original form’
  31. Finson-‘My Lord, I wish for u to address the jury on the objection I have made and make a ruling’ Judge- ‘I have made a ruling’
  32. Finson- ‘And what is your ruling ‘ Judge – ‘That you are to SIT’ The melanin deficient Finson turned crimson. #JudgeDread
  33. #courtroomchronicles R: on 3rd when u 1st saw SD card did u mention it in ur report? L : no I didn’t. R: isn’t SD card important detail?
  34. #courtroomchronicles R: aren’t u supposed to put all the juicy details in your report? Is it in your statement? L: no I didn’t put it there
  35. #courtroomchronicles R: did u make mention of seeing SD card on the 14th? L: no sir. R: but the 14th is when u started extraction ? L: yes
  36. #courtroomchronicles R: but u made no mention of SD card that day! L: I already cleared that up sir.
  37. #courtroomchronicles R: in failing to mention SD card did u depart from best practice a? L: no counsel.
  38. #courtroomchronicles R: do u agree with me that there is no chain of custody with your SD card? L: no sir. ..
  39. #courtroomchronicles good cross by Rodgers. Devoid of drama …but extremely methodological and effective. He is focused and quite competent
  40. #courtroomchronicles Linton is visibly not as confident as he was yesterday. He no longer sits upright ..but is bent over. Smile forced ..
  41. #courtroomchronicles Rodgers has him against the ropes with the SD card …it really ought to hav been mentioned as it stores much of data
  42. #courtroomchronicles it will be up to Taylor when he re-examines Linton to get evidence out that L could not have put images n vid on phone

Bleached Skin, White Masks…

One of the articles I was proud to publish recently was this one in Caravan, out of Delhi, a superb magazine if ever there was one. Between Caravan and Chimurenga I think I can truthfully say I’ve published in some of the best magazines in the world. One of these days I’ll post my Chimurenga Chronic piece on Peter Abrahams, in the meantime enjoy the one in Caravan. The article was in Caravan’s January 1, 2012 edition:

VARUN BAKER FOR THE CARAVAN
DJ Vybz Kartel (left), whose decision to lighten his skin in order to better display his tattoos set off a flurry of protest and criticism.

A former British colony of slave plantations, roughly 85 percent of Jamaica’s three million strong population is of African origin. So when Vybz Kartel, born Adidjah Palmer, the most popular DJ in Jamaica, released a song called ‘Cake Soap’ in which he appeared to be promoting a blue soap bar used to bleach white clothes as a skin-lightening agent it didn’t go without notice. Just a few weeks later it was followed by a second song, ‘Coloring Book (Tattoo Time Come)’, in which the DJ bragged about women’s responses to the numerous tattoos decorating his newly bleached skin. 

Gal a seh mi pretty like a coloring book

She seh mi skin pretty like a coloring book


Kartel was unabashed about displaying—even flaunting—his own considerably altered face, with an epidermis several shades lighter than his naturally dark skin. A tattoo fanatic, the DJ explained that his bleaching was motivated by a desire to exhibit the designs on his skin, making it “a living, breathing canvas” rather than a sign of low self-esteem or a desire to pass as white. He was a proud black man, he asserted, just as he had always been, and his decision to lighten his skin should be viewed in the same vein as a white person tanning theirs.

In March 2011 Kartel made his way to the University of the West Indies. His lyrics had been a popular choice of students when they were asked to select songs to analyse in a course on Reggae Poetry, and so he was invited to present a guest lecture. The university, however, found itself underprepared for the massive throng that descended onto the campus to catch the popular DJ’s words of wisdom. Taxi drivers, itinerant vendors, hair dressers, touts and walkabouts from all over the city descended upon the appointed spot, straining the university’s facilities to breaking point.

During the lecture, titled ‘Pretty as a Colouring Book: My Life and My Art’, Kartel, armed with a PowerPoint presentation, elaborated his position on the subject of skin bleaching:

For more go here.