On the heels of the verdict in the Vybz Kartel murder trial, one blogger raises questions about the track records of the Jamaican police and judicial system and wonders how much faith the Jamaican people can actually have in the course of justice.
Prompted by a newspaper article about two Active Voice begins her post by saying:
Comparing and contrasting is always a useful exercise. Two men, Claytoday Dunkley and Garfield Litchmore, falsely accused of killing lawmen, lose 6 years of their life due to police bungling or worse, and the most the Gleaner can do is run a brief two-column report on page 2 with skeletal details of a case that seems to be a flagrant violation of human rights. Is it because the two concerned are labourers from Trench Town and not from Upper St. Andrew? What recourse if any do they have? Will any members of the Police be held accountable for this travesty of justice?
She makes the link between cases like these and the high-profile Vybz Kartel trial:
Buju Banton might have smiled and called this low-budget justice for low-budget people…aside from this the admission that the police apparently falsely charged the two men raises doubts about the reliability of evidence they presented against Vybz Kartel and co which as we all know ended in the conviction of the superstar DJ and three of his co-accused last week.
To underscore her point, she refers to another trial that got a lot of attention in Jamaica seven years ago:
Juxtapose this for argument’s sake with the 2007 trial of former UWI student Rodney Beckles, accused of stabbing one Khalil Campbell to death over a chillum pipe. On that occasion the story occupied the Gleaner’s front page…no doubt because the protagonists were both sons of ‘high-society officials’ as the headline pointed out. Rodney is the son of Sir Hilary Beckles, Principal of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus. The young man he killed was none other than the son of Justice Lennox Campbell, yes you read it right, the very Supreme Court Judge Lennox Campbell who presided over the Kartel trial. The murder took place in January 2007 and by the end of November the same year young Beckles had been acquitted, much to the relief of his parents.
Despite the fact that the 18 injuries were all found on the body of the victim, none on the body of the killer Beckles, a jury which deliberated for two hours (shades of the Kartel trial!) decided that the victim had been the aggressor and Beckles was acting in self-defence when he stabbed Campbell through the heart.
Her post republishes a newspaper report about the trial, which mentioned that “the defence brought medical evidence to show that the deceased was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and cannabis abuse and was aggressive when he did not get his medication.” She asks:
So what do you think? Is the second a case of high-budget justice for high-budget people in contrast to the case of the Trenchtown labourers, Claytoday Dunkley and Garfield Litchmore? Again what does this indicate about the quality of justice meted out by Jamaican courts?
Then, she gets to the real question:
Was Kartel found to be guilty or was he to be found guilty by a police force and judiciary determined to make an example of him?