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DEATH PENALTY OR LIFE IMPRISONMENT FOR KARTEL IF CONVICTED
Will the prosecution request the death penalty in the murder case against Vybz Kartel? Given new information emerging in the case which suggests that the deejay could be charged for murder in five other cases, it appears that the police and the prosecution are building a case against Kartel to show that he is “a most extreme and exceptional” individual and is a threat to the society.
However, it is even more difficult for the death penalty to be reimposed in Jamaica. And most people believe that if convicted, Kartel could face the possibility of being handed down a sentence of life imprisonment.
Two years ago, a five-member panel of the local Court of Appeal sat in December 2009 to consider whether the death penalty should be imposed in the case of a Peter Dougal who shot and killed a couple while they slept.
Peter Dougal’s life has been spared, but from the reasons given in the majority decision, hanging is not likely to resume in Jamaica based on a 2010 United Kingdom Privy Council ruling.
The Jamaican courts will now have to abide by the ruling in the case of Trimmingham v The Queen, when the death penalty is an option.
The death penalty should be imposed only in cases which, on the facts of the offence, are “the most extreme and exceptional”, “the worst of the worst”, or “the rarest of the rare”. If Kartel is judged to have committed, or conspired to commit, seven murders, then maybe this will qualify as a case deemed “the worst of the worst”.
The Privy Council said further that the second principle is that there must be no reasonable prospect of reform of the offender, and that the object of punishment could not be achieved by any means other than the ultimate sentence of death. It also said that “the character of the offender and any other relevant circumstances are to be taken into account in so far as they may operate in his favour by way of mitigation and are not to weigh in the scales against him. Before it imposes a sentence of death, the court must be properly satisfied that these two criteria have been fulfilled”.