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(Jamaica Gleaner) – 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 controversial deejay Vybz Kartel, attorneys representing him have admitted.

Kartel, who appeared to have been clinging to hopes, voiced in one of his popular songs about being set free from prison, failed to have his murder conviction overturned.

The popular dancehall entertainer, who was born Adidja Palmer, 44, and his co-accused, Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John had been convicted for the 2011 murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams.

Campbell is represented by attorney-at-law Bert Samuels.

Unanimous decision

A three-member panel of judges of the Court of Appeal led by President Dennis Morrison informed lawyers yesterday that the appeal had failed in a unanimous decision.

“Despite the failure of the judge to follow the now well-established procedure involving sentencing, the sentences that he imposed are consistent with sentences handed down in previous cases, but the appellants are each entitled to the benefit of a deduction of the time that they spent in custody prior to sentencing,” the Court of Appeal judges stated.

High-powered attorneys hired by Kartel yesterday voiced their disappointment in the judgment and vowed to head to the United Kingdom-based Privy Council where they are hoping for a better outcome.

The disappointment for Tom Tavares-Finson, QC, was palpable as he reflected on the court’s decision.

“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,” Tavares-Finson said.

The attorney who also serves as president of the Senate claimed “nobody in Jamaica believes Adidja Palmer got a fair trial”.

“We are confident that once we go to the Privy Council, we will get justice in this matter,” he said, before blasting the courts for taking two years to deliver the judgment.

“This is a travesty, it is unprecedented and it is outrageous … and the Privy Council will no doubt have something to say about that,” Tavares-Finson charged.

But with the UK borders remaining closed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 3,000 people in that country, Valerie Neita-Robertson, QC, who also represents 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,” Neita Robertson said.

Days leading up to yesterday’s judgment, Kartel telegraphed that he was confident he would be freed.

“I feel very upbeat about the case. I’m 100 per cent 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 deejay said.

Justice Lennox Campbell gave Kartel and his co-accused mandatory life sentences for murder.

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