Bert Samuels Details When He Expects Ruling in Vybz Kartel’s Appeal, Believes DPP was ‘Wrong’ to “Encourage” the Judge to Continue Trial – Interview

Bert Samuels Details When He Expects Ruling in Vybz Kartel’s Appeal, Believes DPP was ‘Wrong’ to “Encourage” the Judge to Continue Trial – Interview

Kedean Brown

After the two-day appeal seeking to overturn the murder convictions of Vybz Kartel, Kahira Jones, Andre St. John, and Shawn Campbell, attorney-at-law Bert Samuels provided details about the concluded hearing.

On February 14 and 15, the Privy Council heard arguments presented by both the prosecution and the appellant’s defence teams, which consisted of Samuels.

Speaking about the hearing, Samuels reiterated the issues presented to the Privy Council. He noted the issues with the jury and explained that instead of dismissing a member of the jury for attempting to bribe another, the judge only issued a warning.

He told the hosts on TVJ Smile Jamaica that, according to the law in 2015, a murder case could not proceed without a minimum of eleven jurors. However, the judge decided to proceed with the trial, saying he could not go below eleven.

Additionally, Samuels mentioned that Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn wrongfully encouraged the judge to continue with the case despite the issue with the juror, “you can’t encourage a judge as an arm of the state, she’s an arm of the state, she must also be concerned with fair trials for Jamaican citizens.”

Another issue raised in the appeal was that the jury was not given adequate time to deliberate. Samuels suggested that the jurors may have been pressured to reach a verdict.

  • Isat Buchanan
    Isat Buchanan, Vybz Katel’s attorney

“They were not given a fair trial. A lot of people don’t understand what a fair trial [is]… A person who is guilty is entitled to a fair trial; a person who is innocent is entitled to a fair trial,” he said.

Initial reports suggest that the Privy Council is expected to issue its ruling in the next few months, however, Samuels states that he expects a longer time.

According to Samuels, normally these cases take 2-3 months, however, he outlined that the documents are lengthy with some 9000 pages for the Privy Council to go through, about 5 times the norm, hence he is expecting a ruling on the appeal around “summer or late summer”.

Nonetheless, Samuels listed the potential outcomes of the hearing, saying, “The court can say, ‘Oh, the evidence is so overwhelming, even with another jury, they would have been found guilty,’ and we lose.”

He continued, “They can say, ‘Oh, we find that you know, something went wrong, but the provisor is that, you know, we can still have the conviction stand’.”

He added, “And then we go to the third situation where, ‘Oh, yes, it went wrong, but we want to give the Jamaican Court of Appeal, we’re going to send it back to the Jamaican Court of Appeal to determine whether it will be a retrial or they will walk, they’ll be free’.”

Furthermore, Samuels expressed that if the appellants are freed, they could “sue the state” for malicious prosecution.

Samuels also explained that he does not want a retrial for multiple reasons. One reason is that the appellants have been imprisoned for thirteen years, and another reason is that a retrial will be costly.

Also, he pointed out that since most of the details of the case and the evidence have been exposed to the public, it would be difficult to get new jurors who have not been influenced by public discussion.

Watch the interview with Bert Samuels below: