Sat | Apr 4, 2020

Soldiers in Keith Clarke murder to stand trial as court nullifies immunity certificates

Published:Tuesday | February 18, 2020 | 9:22 AM
More than a year after hearing a challenge brought by Keith Clarke's widow, Claudette, a three-member panel of judges this morning said the certificates were manifestly unfair and unreasonable.

The three soldiers charged with the 2010 murder of Keith Clarke will have to stand trial after the Constitutional Court this morning ruled that the immunity certificates granted to them are invalid, null and void.

The certificates were granted to the soldiers in 2016 by then National Security Minister Peter Bunting, that's four years after Corporal Odel Buckley, Lance Corporal Greg Tinglin and Private Arnold Henry were charged with Clarke's murder.

But three months after hearing a challenge brought by Clarke's widow, Claudette, a three-member panel of judges this morning said the certificates were manifestly unfair and unreasonable. 

Justice Leighton Pusey, who read the ruling, ordered that the soldiers must therefore stand trial.

According to the ruling, the soldiers cannot rely on the good faith certificates in the trial.

The judge has also reminded attorneys that, with the matter set to be tried by a jury, they should be careful about their public utterances about this case.

Here's the timeline of how the matter has unfolded:

May 27, 2010 - Keith Clarke shot 21 times and dies inside his Kirkland Close, St Andrew home. 

July 30, 2012 - Soldiers charged for Clarke’s murder. 

October 13, 2013 - Murder trial of the three soldiers postponed until March 9, 2015, due to the Chikungunya illness on the part of one of the defence lawyers. 

March 9, 2015 - Trial rescheduled for October 12, 2015 after the Director of  Public Prosecutions (DPP) acceded to a request from attorneys for the soldiers that the trial be delayed pending the completion of  the West Kingston Commission of  Enquiry.

October 12, 2015 - Trial rescheduled to February 8, 2016, pending the completion of  the West Kingston Commission of  Enquiry. 

February 22, 2016 - National Security Minister Peter Bunting signs and issues immunity certificates to Corporal Odel Buckley, Lance Corporal Greg Tinglin and Private Arnold Henry 

September 19, 2016 - Trial pushed back to February 6, 2017. 

September 2017 - Trial again delayed, this time because of the unavailability of Dr Dinesh Rao, the former consultant pathologist to the Ministry of National Security.

April 2018 - Trial of soldiers which was to begin, halted due to the presentation of certificates of immunity to court.  

November 2019 - Constitutional Court hears arguments in the challenge to the legality of the certificates of immunity brought by widow Claudette Clarke. 

February 18, 2020 - Constitutional Court rules the certificates of immunity are null and void. 

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