Jamaican law is very clear regarding evidence. It is up to the Investigating officer to make sure that evidence pertaining to the case he or she investigated is brought before the Court. Each time the Evidence is brought to court it is handed to the prosecuting Attorney. If and when the case is set for a future date, the investigating officer takes possession of the item/s of evidence and return it to the station where it is handed over to the officer in charge of the Evidence room, where it is signed back into protective custody. The process is reversed on the next court date.
I know there are better and more sophisticated ways of dealing with evidence.. Our country is not developed yet, so it is what it is. The point of all this however, is that as imperfect as it is, there is absolutely no excuse for the prosecutor to tell the court that evidence has disappeared or somehow cannot be found.
There has been a major development in the Vybz Kartel murder case as a key piece of evidence has gone missing. Prosecutors have disclosed that a compact disc or CD containing telephone records cannot be located. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=50437
The prosecutor did not explain where in the chain of custody the breach occurred. Was this critical piece of evidence in the care of the prosecution team when it disappeared or was it another case of police corruption and criminal collusion? It is important that this matter be laid bare. Adija Palmer o/c Vybz Kartel is facing capital murder . In the interest of Justice all evidence, both incriminating and exculpatory must be available to the court, so that the correct verdict may be arrived at. It is critical in determining the innocence or guilt of the accused as well as in the interest of justice for the aggrieved family of the victim.
Kartel and others in a photograph brandishing guns before his arrest and the beginning of this case.
It cannot be that critical evidence just disappear with a simple statement that it cannot be found. Who is in charge here? Are the inmates running the Asylum? The absence of that critical bit of evidence did not seem to be a surprise to Palmer’s Attorney Tom Tavares Finson. In fact it was Finson who asked the Court to have the Prosecutor show the corresponding disc which is critical in explaining the one being testified to by a Digicel expert. Upon which the Prosecutor told the court the evidence was lost. Tavares-Finson then suggested that since one of the CDs is missing, the court would be unable to verify the contents on the disc which was tendered into evidence.
Was this crafty defense counsel have reason to believe that the disc was missing, if so why? How could he possibly have known if he wasn’t privy to information the court did not have, that somehow there was evidence tampering in this important case? As I asked before where in the chain of custody did this evidence disappear? Who was entrusted with it, was it the prosecutor, we need to know? Was it the police? Whomever it is must be brought to court to explain and account. Who was responsible for the custody of the Disc? There are established lawful protocols ? This cannot be allowed to just die with the accused being set free. A critical piece of evidence dissapeared, it cannot just be a return to business as usual. This is criminality of the highest order. My anger does not go to the guilt or innocence of the accused. This is bigger than any one accused. This kind of rampant criminality within the criminal justice system is destroying the system and is fueling crime on the Island. It has to stop.