Jamaican dancehall star Vybz Kartel wins appeal over murder conviction

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Jamaican dancehall star Vybz Kartel’s conviction for the murder of an associate more than a decade ago was quashed on Thursday, with a London court ruling that attempts to bribe the trial jury meant the conviction was unsafe.

The musician, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, is one of Jamaica’s most popular artists and has collaborated with performers such as Jay-Z and Rihanna.

Kartel, 48, has been in jail in Jamaica since 2011 over the disappearance of his associate Clive “Lizard” Williams, whose body has never been found.

Vybz Kartel, World Dancehall King

After a 64-day trial in Kingston, one of the longest in Jamaican history, Kartel and three others were convicted in 2014. Kartel was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 35 years, later reduced on appeal to 32-and-a-half.

Last month, Kartel and his co-defendants mounted their final possible appeal at the Privy Council in London, the final court of appeal in Jamaica and some other Commonwealth countries.

Their lawyers argued the trial judge wrongly handled allegations that one juror offered 500,000 Jamaican dollars (around $3,200) to fellow jurors to return not guilty verdicts.

The defendants’ appeals were allowed on Thursday, with Judge David Lloyd-Jones saying the trial judge’s decision to allow the juror alleged to have offered bribes to continue on the jury was “fatal to the safety of the convictions”.

The Privy Council sent the case back to the Court of Appeal in Jamaica to decide whether Kartel and his co-defendants should stand trial again.

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