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Olivia Stock
15 March 2024, 12:36

Vybz Kartel murder conviction overturned following appeal

The Dancehall star was sentenced to life in prison in 2014 for the murder of an associate

Photo of Vybz Kartel holding up his fists and wearing a baseball
IG via @vybzkartel

The murder conviction of Jamaican dancehall artist Vybz Kartel has been overturned this week following an appeal.

On Thursday (14th March), the Privy Council in London ruled that a juror accused of trying to bribe others should have been thrown off the musician’s trial and that the conviction was therefore unsafe. A Jamaican appeals court will now decide whether Kartel and his co-defendants will be re-trialled.

Vybz Kartel – real name Adidja Palmer – had previously been given a life sentence for the 2011 murder of his associate, Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams, in Kingston. His 64-day trial was one of the longest in Jamaican history, and ended with the artist being ordered to serve a minimum of 35 years in jail.

During the trial, one juror allegedly made bribes of J$500,000 (roughly $3,200 US) to fellow jurors to turn in a not-guilty verdict. After this was discovered, the juror was not removed from the case. Kartel and his co-defendants' lawyers' appeal states that this situation was poorly handled.

“Allowing Juror X to remain on the jury is fatal to the safety of the convictions which followed,” the council wrote on Thursday, according to the BBC. “It was an infringement of the appellants’ fundamental right to a fair hearing under the Jamaican Constitution.”

The decision came from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, a London court that decides last-resort appeals from certain countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations, including Jamaica.

“In coming to this conclusion, the Board is mindful of the very serious consequences which may flow from having to discharge a jury shortly before the end of a long and complex criminal trial,” the appeals court wrote, noting that England has statutes aimed at dealing with such situations.

“However, in the absence of such a provision — and there is no such provision in Jamaica — there will be occasions on which, as in the present case, a court will have no alternative but to discharge a jury and end the trial in order to protect the integrity of the system of trial by jury,” the court added.

Sharing a screenshot of BBC's report on the ruling on Instagram, Vybz Kartel wrote: "Victorious!!!!"

Vybz Kartel is known worldwide for hits including ‘Clarks’, ‘Ramping Shop’ and ‘Summer Time’, as well as his collaborations with Rihanna, Jay-Z and other artists. He was also the first dancehall artist to star in his own reality TV show, Teacha’s Pet.

Read DJ Mag’s countdown of the 100 most important dancehall tracks here.