Sun | Jun 16, 2024

Keith Clarke case postponed to June 5

Published:Wednesday | May 31, 2023 | 1:20 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter
This  file photo shows a bullet-riddled wall in the Kirkland Heights house of businessman Keith Clarke, who was killed during a military operation at the premises on May 27.
This file photo shows a bullet-riddled wall in the Kirkland Heights house of businessman Keith Clarke, who was killed during a military operation at the premises on May 27.

The plea and case management in relation to the 2010 shooting death of businessman Keith Clarke is to continue on June 5.

The case was scheduled to resume yesterday in the Home Circuit Court but was postponed due to the unavailability of the presiding judge.

Consequently, Corporal Odel Buckley, Lance Corporal Greg Tinglin, and Private Arnold Henry, who were arrested and charged with the businessman’s murder, had their bail extended.

Clarke was reportedly shot 21 times inside his Kirkland Heights home in St Andrew on July 27 during a military operation.

The matter, which had been stalled since April 2018, was placed back on the trial list following a Court of Appeal ruling in January.

Jury selection was forced to a halt in August 2018 after defence lawyers surprised the Crown with certificates of immunity which they claimed shielded the trio from prosecution.

Signed in 2016

Those certificates of immunity were signed in 2016 by then Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, six years after Clarke’s death.

Clarke’s widow, Claudette, then challenged the validity of the certificates.

The Constitutional Court had ruled in February 2020 that the immunity certificates were invalid, null, and void and that the soldiers should stand trial.

Taking the matter to the Court of Appeal, the soldiers sought to have the decision quashed.

The nation’s second-highest court struck down the Constitutional Court ruling regarding the certificates, but affirmed the decision that the soldiers should be tried.

However, the appeal court ruled that a voir dire, or a trial within the trial, must be conducted by a judge alone to determine whether the director of public prosecutions can rebut the certificates of good faith issued by the minister.

The appeal court judges also ruled that the Full Court erred in determining that the delay in issuing the certificates was manifestly unfair and unreasonable, and that, as a result, the soldiers should not be allowed to rely on them.

“Arising from these determinations, we have concluded that it is not necessary in this case that the certificates be challenged by way of judicial review but rather, in the circumstances, that a preliminary determination be made by a judge of the Supreme Court sitting without a jury,” they explained.

The soldiers had reportedly gone in search of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, the now-convicted Jamaican drug lord who is in a United States prison, when Clarke was killed.

Coke was the target of an islandwide manhunt after escaping a security dragnet inside his west Kingston enclave of Tivoli Gardens.

King’s Counsel Peter Champagnie represents Buckley, King’s Counsel Valerie Neita-Robertson appears for Tingling, and attorney-at-law Linton Gordon represents Henry.

tanesha.mundle@gleanerjm.com