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Star witness to be recalled in Kartel trial

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013    

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THE prosecution's star witness in the murder trial of entertainer Adidja Palmer, better known as Vybz Kartel, and four other men in the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston will be recalled to the witness stand.

Defence attorney Tom Tavares-Finson, who is representing Kartel, informed the court that he wanted to further question the witness in relation to a letter that the witness denied writing and sending to the Office of the Public Defender.

The team of defence lawyers contend that the witness penned the letter, claiming that he was forced by police to give a statement implicating Kartel, Shawn 'Shawn Storm' Campbell, André 'Mad Suss' St John, Shane Williams, and Kahira, Jones and that he had seen Clive 'Lizard' Williams after the day he was allegedly murdered in August 2011.

The defence is also claiming that the witness, who testified that he saw Williams' body lying motionless in the living room of a house Kartel owned at Havendale in St Andrew, gave his aunt the letter to deliver to the public defender.

Tavares-Finson told the court that he was in possession of the results of an examination conducted by handwriting experts and wanted to further question the witness about the results.

Yesterday, the trial suffered from a 90-minute delay after a witness from the police Cybercrime Unit could not attend court because of personal circumstances.

Lead prosecutor Jeremy Taylor then asked Justice Lennox Campbell for an adjournment of the day's proceedings as another witness who was summoned to court at the last minute had not yet shown, but this was quickly rebuffed by Tavares-Finson.

"I don't know if I am the only one who [finds] this unacceptable. There are nine days to go before the 20th. I thought the arrangements would be made to bring other witnesses," he said.

Justice Campbell subsequently ordered Taylor to make additional efforts to get the witness to attend court as he was a public servant. "One of the witnesses is a public servant, and a properly placed phone call would have gotten that person here," Justice Campbell said before adjourning the case for 15 minutes.

Upon the resumption, Deputy Director of Immigration at the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency Ephium Allen took the witness stand and testified that he was asked by Superintendent Vernon Thompson for the travel history of Williams to determine if he had left the country.

He said Thompson provided him with a birth certificate and a passport number and he used two computers to conduct the search, which showed no official record of Williams leaving the island.

"No match was found for the person travelling," he said, while being examined by Taylor.

After being questioned by Justice Campbell over what period of time he meant, Allen told the court that the computerised border management system was introduced in 2005.

He also said he did not check if Williams was the holder of a passport.

"You were asked to find out if a person ever travelled and you did not think it necessary to find out if that person had a passport?" Justice Campbell asked.

"On a given day the agency gets a number of requests, and these requests are very specific. If is not requested of the Immigration Department we do not provide the information," Allen answered.

Under cross-examination by Tavares-Finson, Allen denied knowledge of persons leaving the island through illegal means.

"You know of any unlawful ports of entry?" the attorney asked.

"No sir," the witness answered.

"Suppose a person take a canoe to Pedro Cay and go South or Central America, you don't know about that?" Tavares-Finson continued.

"No sir," Allen answered again.

But it was the cross-examination by attorney Everton Dewar, who represents Shane Williams, that may have scored the most points for the defence.

"Are you aware of an artiste called 'Busy Signal'?" Dewar asked.

"Yes sir," Allen answered.

"Are you aware he was travelling in a different name than his birth name?" Dewar continued. "I heard something like that," Allen answered.

The trial will continue behind closed doors today when the police cybercrime witness will continue his testimony.

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