Dancehall artist, Vybz Kartel has been incarcerated for almost three years while awaiting trial of two separate murder cases. Last week the court found Kartel not guilty in the first of his two murder cases due to the prosecutors being unable to present their witnesses. As the “Gaza” artist awaits trial for his second case set for November, he is still behind bars and has not been granted bail.
Kartel issued a statement following the not guilty verdict, while his main legal counsel, Christian Tavares-Finson, sat down with jamaicansmusic.com to discuss the details of the two cases.
In the interview, Tavares-Finson explains that the reason for the acquittal in the first trial was the prosecution’s inability to produce their alleged witnesses. When they could not locate the witnesses, the prosecution motioned to the court permission to enter transcripts from them. However, Tavares-Finson and the defense argued that there were absolutely no record of these witnesses. The alleged witnesses had no driver’s license, no TRN number – the Jamaican equivalent to a social security number, no birth certificate, voter i.d. or any other identification. There was no evidence to prove that the people existed. Faced with these facts, the judge instructed the jury to find Kartel not guilty.
Tavares-Finson goes on to talk about the second case against Vybz Kartel, whose real name is Adija Palmer. He says the first case that is behind them was the more difficult of the two and that the second case is “completely circumstantial.” Finson states that the prosecution has absolutely no evidence in the second case, contending that rumors of an eye witness and camera footage are all false.
In the second case, Vybz Kartel is charged with the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams. However, in the video his lawyer states that the courts cannot even prove that William is dead, as they don’t have a body. Tavares-Finson says, “The basis of that offense is: a number of persons, including Adija Palmer, beat somebody to death. There’s no IC witness to the incident. All the witness says is that he was in the company of this person, he ran, left the person there and has not seen him since.”
Tavares-Finson says that originally Kartel was denied bail because he was facing two murder charges. Now that he’s been found not guilty in the first trial, they believe the prosecution has no evidence for the second trial, so Tavares-Finson will be seeking bail for his client again. This time around he feels he has a better chance of getting the self-proclaimed ‘Worldboss’ out of jail. Tavares-Finson adds, “If you don’t like the way he looks. Or if you don’t like the music he sings, that’s one thing. But don’t try to keep a man in custody in order to censor his image and music.”
Indeed that is a true statement. Regardless of the damage done to Vybz Kartel’s image and music, he is a citizen in a democratic nation. Therefore, he should be entitled to the same due process as any other citizen facing similar circumstances.