[Photo from Jamaica Gleaner]
After two and a half years behind bars, dancehall superstar Vybz Kartel was found guilty of murder last night. The scene has been tense in Kingston, where hundreds gathered to chant “Free Kartel,” and riot police cordoned off streets.
The trial, which lasted for 65 days, ended with Kartel and three other defendants found guilty of murdering Clive “Lizard” Williams in October 2011. Reportedly, Williams was beaten to death at Kartel’s house, though his body has never been found. The police found a text on Kartel’s phone, saying that Williams had been chopped into “mincemeat.” However, prosecutors apparently lost witness statements and a CD containing evidence, and relied on circumstantial evidence to prove Kartel committed the crime. Defense attorneys say they will appeal the verdict. Another murder case against Kartel, for the killing of Barrington “Bossy” Burton, was dismissed late last year.
In anticipation of a public protest, police set up armored vehicles and mounted troops on King Street, while nearby businesses closed down. Many Jamaicans gathered outside the courthouse to show support for Vybz, and some broke through the barricades, where they clashed with police. Check out video footage below: