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Jamaica justice system was on trial, says DPP

Published:Friday | March 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

The State's top prosecutor last night declared that the murder trial of top entertainer Vybz Kartel provided a shot in the arm for the country's ailing judicial system.

"Our [judicial] system was on trial," Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn told reporters minutes after an 11-member jury returned guilty verdicts against Kartel and three of his co-accused.

"But I would like to think that what Jamaica and the international arena has been reminded of is that, notwithstanding all the challenges, there are persons in the system... who have integrity and who are committed to public service above self," she added.

Those persons, Llewellyn noted, are spread across the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the office of the DPP and court staff.

"It's not that we are striving for a winning situation, we strive to put up the best evidence that is available," she insisted.

Kartel's lead attorney, Tom Tavares-Finson, though disappointed with the verdict, offered a similar endorsement of the judicial system.

"It has been a good process because it is a benchmark case," Tavares-Finson asserted.

"Most of the evidence was new and there was new technology... the preparation was new and a lot of it was new to us," he added.

Police conduct

However, the veteran attorney told reporters he would reserve comment on the conduct of the police investigations in the case.

Tavares-Finson made it clear that he accepted the jury's verdict, but served notice that defence attorneys will "immediately" commence the appeal process.

"There is an appeal process, which we will embark upon immediately. But we will have to look back through the transcript to determine the grounds for appeal," he said.

Everton Dewar, the attorney for Shane Williams - the only co-accused who was freed - said his client has requested psychological help to help cope with the trauma of being in custody so long.

Dewar said he expected his client to be released last night and said arrangements were being made for him to get the help he requested.