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Police to close streets around Supreme Court as Kartel trial winds down

Heat in Supreme Court as judge continues summation in Kartel trial

BY KARYL WALKER Editor — Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 13, 2014    

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POLICE will today lock down streets in the vicinity of and around the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston, as part of precautionary measures, as the high-profile 'Vybz Kartel' murder trial draws to a close.

The police announced yesterday that King Street will be blocked off between South Parade and Harbour Street, which means motorists travelling from South Parade, Tower Street, Harbour Street and Barry Street will not be able to access King Street. Business operators will, however, be allowed limited access.

The police will also cordon off Church Street between South Parade and Tower Street. Only court officials and police vehicles will be able to access Church Street from the direction of South Parade or Tower Street.

The roads will be closed between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, said the constabulary.

A similar lockdown of sections of downtown Kingston, also as a precautionary measure for the Kartel trial, caused chaos in the busy business district. The police were criticised by shoppers, business and transport operators, as well as commuters following the chaos and inconvenience caused by the road closures.

Yesterday, the police warned staff from the island's two national television stations who had set up the outside broadcast facilities outside the Supreme Court that a sterile area would be created to keep out the media. Police claimed that the media's presence attracted crowds.

During yesterday's sitting, Justice Lennox Campbell and defence attorney Tom Tavares-Finson again locked horns as the judge continued the summation of the evidence given in the murder trial of Kartel and his four accused.

The stand-off developed after Justice Campbell began showing the video of a room which was said to be inside of a house owned by Vybz Kartel in which men were heard plotting to commit murder and a man was holding a pick axe.

Tavares-Finson jumped to his feet after his colleague Miguel Lorne asked the judge to display the time stamp of the video but was ignored by Justice Campbell.

"What a useful exercise this is? The time stamp shows 10:43 pm, at that time people had gone about their business according to the cCrown's case," Tavares-Finson said.

Justice Campbell was, however, unfazed and continued his summation.

"I am not going to further disrupt your summation. I am just asking for the time stamp because showing the video without showing the time stamp is incomplete," Tavares-Finson insisted.

The judge then ordered the attorney to take his seat. But Tavares-Finson continued his protest.

"I expect better from you, bearing in mind your experience," Justice Campbell said sternly.

"I am well aware of my function and I am well aware of your function. All I am asking [is] if you are showing something to the jurors, show all of it and I say that with the greatest respect," Tavares-Finson said.

"I am at my summation for four days. I don't know you entered the courtroom late. Don't you know you are disrupting the summation?" Justice Campbell said.

"I have nothing further to say. I am not the only one who enters the court late," the attorney replied.

"Please understand, Mr Finson, if you interrupt the summation again I have no other course but to see the summation continue peacefully," Justice Campbell warned.

On Tuesday Tavares-Finson had interrupted the judge's summation and voiced his objection to a reference to a BlackBerry message which stated that 'Lizard' had been chopped up and his body disposed of.

The attorney has also stormed out of court on more than one occasion.

The trial got off to a late start yesterday due to the illness of a female juror who turned up for duty minutes after midday.

The judge instructed the 11 jurors to bear in mind that the defence has consistently argued that the police had acted unprofessionally and corrupt in order to secure the conviction of Vybz Kartel, Shawn 'Shawn Storm' Campbell, Kahira Jones, Shane Williams and Andre St John, all of whom are accused of the beating death of Clive 'Lizard' Williams in August 2011.

Williams was allegedly killed over two missing guns.

"Is it following procedure and order or is it being done just to secure a conviction?" Justice Campbell asked.

In addition to the video, the judge played voicenotes which featured a voice said to be that of Vybz Kartel speaking about 'new shoes' and making reference to persons on Waltham Park Road.

He also reviewed the evidence of five prosecution witnesses.

The trial has run for 64 days and has seemingly taken its toll on the jury, one of whom was observed sleeping with his head flung back.

On Tuesday the jurors appeared bored as Justice Campbell was summing up.

US rapper Busta Rhymes has been in the island last week showing support for Kartel. Yesterday, he was joined by Reggae singer Junior Reid who was also in the courtroom.

The judge is expected to continue his summation today and could hand the case to the jury either today or tomorrow.

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