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Kartel Fallout

Published: Monday | January 16, 2012

Vybz Kartel
Vybz Kartel

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

Nine police personnel accused of violating prison regulations by accepting money and other gifts to give special privileges to popular dancehall entertainer Vybz Kartel, as well as another high-profile inmate at the Gun Court Remand Centre in St Andrew, have been slapped with internal charges that could lead to their dismissal from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

This comes at the end of a probe conducted by the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of the JCF, which recommended that disciplinary action be brought against them.

Head of the ACB, Assistant Commissioner of Police Justin Felice, said all the evidence has already been sent to Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington and plans are being put in place to start the disciplinary process “as soon as possible”.

“He (Ellington) will in turn send it (the evidence) to a disciplinary hearing and then, hopefully, we will be making timely decisions as to whether these individuals are suitable to remain within the Jamaica Constabulary Force,” Felice told The Gleaner.

He acknowledged that the nine police personnel are entitled to a disciplinary hearing, but added: “We are trying to expedite the decision about their future within the organisation.”

Felice made it clear that dismissals were among several options that would be considered, but said that was a decision for the Police Service Commission.

The ACB head, when asked why criminal charges were not filed against the police, said the legislation governing police lock-ups are “very complex”.

“Because it’s a police lock-up and not a correctional facility, the offences are not quite the same, so it’s a complex legal issue,” he explained.

Felice refused to divulge details of the probe conducted by the ACB, but said the police have video recordings and other evidence to show that a “full range of corruption” was taking place at the Gun Court Remand Centre, which is located on South Camp Road.

“All sorts of things were taking place there in relation to visits. People were being taken outside of the lock-up, people were being given mobile phones and money was passing hands for favours,” he revealed.

Allowed a visitor

Police investigators say Vybz Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, was not the inmate who was taken outside the lock-up, but said on one occasion he was allowed a visitor in a restricted section of the lock-up and given the use of a mobile phone.

The allegations led to the nine police personnel being transferred from the lock-up and placed at other police formations.

Felice said while these kinds of breaches are not widespread, his division has concerns about other police lock-ups.

Palmer has been in custody since October 1 last year, and is facing charges of murder, conspiracy and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

In the meantime, Police Constable Franz Morrison, chairman of the Police Federation, told The Gleaner yesterday that the organisation did not have a case before it to determine whether due process was taking place.

“In this specific matter nothing has been brought to us as a police federation for us to intervene or to advise members on,” Morrison toldThe Gleaner.

“If there is an investigation in train, we know that the members will be, and would be given a opportunity to answer. Until that is done, we wait to see where the investigation goes,” Morrison said.

He told The Gleaner that based on the police internal disciplinary procedure if the matter is taken before the court of enquiry and the members are found guilty, they could be dismissed from the force.





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