Vybz Kartel's release hangs in balance as Jamaican court delays decision

Dancehall star Vybz Kartel will remain behind bars for now, as the Court of Appeal in Jamaica still has not come to a decision on whether to grant the prosecution's request for a retrial.

The court said it needed more time before making its decision, time that Kartel's supporters say he does not have due to serious health issues. 


Vybz Kartel's life at risk as health declines rapidly in prison, family warns: EXCLUSIVE

International Dancehall star Vybz Kartel, who is known to have been battling Graves' Disease, has been behind bars in a Jamaican prison for more than a decade, under conditions his attorneys say are inhumane.

But lawyers for Kartel, real name Adidja Palmer, say they are optimistic that the court will give their decision by the end of their current term in July.

"We filed so much more paperwork than previously in response to the prosecution, and the prosecution concluded their submissions and the defense team responded, myself and John Clarke. The matter is reserved for the written judgment," said Isat Buchanan, Kartel's lawyer.

Kartel, along with three other men, has been imprisoned since their 2011 arrest and subsequent 2014 conviction for the murder of Clive "Lizard" Williams.

In March, the United Kingdom's Privy Council quashed their conviction, effectively overturning it.

"The prosecution made mistakes and is now asking the court to penalize these defendants by allowing this entire case to kind of start over from the beginning," said Donte Mills, a national trial Attorney and law professor at Temple University. "And the court is saying wait, these people's lives have been impacted for over a decade why should we do that?" 

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According to Mills, who has familiarity with the Jamaican legal system and prison conditions, told FOX 5 NY that the court must be thorough int heir review, given that someone was murdered, but also balance the rights of the exonerated men still behind bars. 

"The guilty verdicts have been quashed, which means they no longer exist. All of the defendants in this case have now never been convicted of murder essentially but what the Court of Appeals in Jamaica is looking at, is should we make these defendants sit again for a trial?" Mills said.

Mills says there is a fundamental difference in the appeal process between the United States and Jamaica.

"The difference is that the court here is going to decide whether a retrial should happen or could happen. In our system in the United States, the prosecutors have the right to retry you if they want to," Mills said.

An additional issue is Vybz Kartel's deteriorating health. Dr. Karen Phillips, Kartel's physician, has filed a report indicating that he requires surgery for worsening Graves' disease and specialized treatment to prevent complete heart failure.

As the wait continues for the Court of Appeal's decision, Buchanan told FOX 5 NY that he is ultimately pleased the court is taking a thorough look at all the issues and is confident that a decision will be reached in their favor.