X6 murder trial Jamaica is writhing in pain

X6 murder trial Jamaica is writhing in pain

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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We have several times said in this space that the law is an ass, because of its obvious imperfections. But we have also maintained that as we are a country of laws and not men; we must operate within the bounds of the law.

This is one of the times when this lofty ideal is strained to the limit because the law has once again bared its shortcomings.

The entire country is feeling the pain inflicted by the outcome of the so-called X6 murder trial which ended Monday without determining who murdered then 17-year-old Kingston College student Khajeel Mais on an innocent taxi ride in Havendale, St Andrew, in July 2011.

The trial has left a bad taste in the mouth and a dangerous feeling that justice has not been served. Once again, the undoubted casualty is the already suspect justice system.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn, and the police high command, in separate statements following the verdict handed down in the Home Circuit Court, expressed their anguish, as did Jamaicans using every medium possible.

Young Mais met his untimely demise, the prosecution argued, on the night of the incident when the taxi in which he was travelling collided with a BMW X6 motor vehicle. It was alleged in court that the driver of the BMW got out and fired at the taxi, hitting the boy.

The case crumbled quickly after the key prosecution witness, Mr Wayne Wright, repeatedly denied that he had given evidence to the police in two statements in July 2011 indicating that he had seen the shooter with the gun and that he had fired about three shots on his taxi on the ill-fated night.

With nothing left to go on, Justice Lloyd Hibbert was left with no choice but to direct the jury to return a not-guilty verdict and free the alleged shooter, St Andrew businessman Mr Patrick Powell, 59.

We will not attempt to reopen the case here. We are not a court of law and the Home Circuit Court has followed the course laid down for such cases. But, in the court of public opinion, the justice system is taking a beating because it appears to have failed to satisfy the truism that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done.

We are especially intrigued by the statement of the DPP that the law needs to be tightened up in respect of perjury and that witnesses seem to be schooled in how to change their statements. It is to be hoped that she will pursue this with great vigour.

In the meantime, we are encouraged by the progress being made in tidying up the justice system, as outlined by Minister Chuck in a statement yesterday responding to the X6 murder trial’s outcome. Some of the noteworthy features are:

• xempmargin;Installation of video-link technology in the courts to facilitate witnesses who cannot be physically present in the courtroom

• xempmargin;Equipment of mobile units to facilitate witnesses giving evidence remotely

• xempmargin;Installation of digital audio recording equipment in some courtrooms

• xempmargin;The registry at the Supreme Court to be outfitted with a modern file folder system shortly.

Mr Chuck rightly acknowledged that we are in a race against time to transform a system that has been largely neglected for several decades. And that, "The urgent and unyielding cry for justice in this country demands a response that is immediate."

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