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WATCH: Blackman, other alleged Klansman gangsters arrive in court for high profile trial

Monday, September 20, 2021

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The accused leader of a faction of the feared Spanish Town, St Catherine-based Klansman gang, Andre 'Blackman' Bryan and his co-accused filed into the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston on Monday morning for the start of their long-delayed trial.

Bryan was at the head of the pack dressed in white shirt and white pants.

Up to late last week frantic efforts were still being made to secure legal representation for Bryan in what is being termed a “one-of-a-kind” trial for the Caribbean, in large part because of the sheer number of co-accused involved – 32 in total including some of Bryan's family members.

The group, which for years sent fear through residents and business people in the busy commercial hub of Spanish Town as they battled each other for the spoils of the lucrative extortion racket, is being tried under Jamaica's anti-gang legislation which was recently strengthened by the Parliament.

The offences with which they are charged include being part of a criminal organisation, murder, conspiracy to murder, arson and illegal possession of firearm. Among other offences, Bryan has been accused of leading a criminal organisation.

Up to last Friday, Bryan was the only one of the 32 yet to tie down legal representation.

According to the police, the Klansman gang accounted for 78 of the 134 murders committed in 2017 in the St Catherine North police division during its bloody reign of terror.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn, told reporters last week that the prosecution was ready to move to trial.

“Four prosecutors have been assigned and the Crown is ready,” she said during the opening ceremony of the Michaelmas session of the court.

At least one defence attorney has indicated that Bryan's failure to secure legal representation may be linked to the fact that the attorneys are dissatisfied with the level of remuneration they are being offered to represent the high profile gangster.

Interest in the case, and possible protest, has led the authorities to cordon off some roads in the vicinity of the court.

The opening proceedings of the judge-only trial will be live streamed.

Earlier this year, well over a dozen alleged members of the gang, who were among 50 individuals originally arrested and charged under the anti-gang legislation, walked free as the evidence against them did not meet the threshold for prosecution.

In 2019, Tesha Miller, the alleged leader of a faction of the Klansman was convicted for orchestrating the 2008 murder of then Chairman of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company, Douglas Chambers, and was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison.

Bryan, who was accused of being the hitman, was acquitted of the killing in 2016.