(Jamaica Observer) IMPRISONED entertainer Vybz Kartel yesterday distanced himself from death threats made against journalists for their reporting on his case, calling the perpetrators “misguided individuals”.
“I appeal to any misguided individual or individuals who may think it appropriate to seek to threaten or intimidate anyone to stop it,” the artiste said in a news release to the media with his signature and new address — Horizon Remand Centre, Spanish Town Road — attached.
“Such action is not helping me or my fellow appellants and is playing into the hands of the police and others who are seeking to discredit me and prejudice the fair hearing of my appeal,” the artiste said.
The news release follows yesterday’s publication of an article by the Jamaica Observer reporting that Crime/Court Desk Editor Karyl Walker had received death threats over an article published on Sunday, and that Nationwide Radio reporter/producer Abka Fitz-Henley was similarly threatened for his presentation of voice notes the prosecution used in the conviction of the entertainer and three associates.
Vybz Kartel’s news release came after an announcement from the police high command that an investigation has been launched into the threats against the journalists by “unscrupulous individuals”.
“It is regrettable that this has been the effect of individuals performing their professional duties, by highlighting the case and offering its coverage for public awareness” said a release from the police announcing the investigation.
The first man who called Walker on Sunday styled him as “P…. hole” and accused him of branding Kartel as an informer. The caller also told Walker that he knew where he lived. When Walker told him that he didn’t author the article, the caller insisted that he did, saying that he knew his writing style.
He received several more threatening calls throughout the day.
The article, titled ’17 guns for freedom’, quoted a source in the police high command as saying that Kartel had given information to the police that led to the recovery of 17 illegal firearms and the apprehension of several wanted men in the Portmore, St Catherine, area. The police source said also that Kartel gave up the information in an effort to avoid being charged with the murder of associate Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams.
Fitz-Henley was threatened shortly after Nationwide aired the voice notes that were used by the prosecution in convicting the artiste and three co-accused — Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John — for Williams’ murder. The men have been sentenced to life imprisonment and are appealing their convictions and sentences.
Yesterday, Vybz Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, said in his news release that the issue of the death threats was brought to his attention by his legal team.
“During my sentencing hearing, my attorney, Tom Tavares-Finson, indicated to the court that I hold no ill-will to any of the persons involved in my trial, neither the police, prosecutors, executives from Digicel and certainly not any member of the media who covered my trial in a manner which exposed the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case for all the world to see,” the artiste added.
“I reiterate the position, I hold no ill-will to anyone who was involved in my trial, and I put my faith in the judicial system and the appeal process on which we have now embarked. In the meantime I thank my family, friends and fans who continue to support and have faith in me,” he said.
Last night, the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) condemned the death threats and urged the police to investigate and take action to ensure the journalists’ safety.
“While it is not unusual for Jamaican journalists to be threatened because of their work, the PAJ views every threat seriously and condemns those misguided members of the public who believe violence should be their reaction at all times whenever there is news or opinions which they do not support,” the PAJ said in a news release.
“The PAJ is also reminding journalists to continue doing their work without fear or favour, even as they make every effort to ensure their personal safety,” the organisation added.