Christian Tavares-Finson is a busy man. He’s the attorney who’s defending dancehall star Adidja Palmer aka Vybz Kartel aka The Werlboss, who has been charged with two murders, weapons violations, and ganja possession. But in this exclusive Boomshots interview, he took time out to dispel some misinformation that’s been flying around the internet today. As the old saying goes, a lie can run halfway round the world before the truth gets its Clarks on…
If you believe what you read on all those disreputable media fakeout websites, you might have been led to believe that Kartel supposedly staged a daring jailbreak last night. So we got on the horn with Mr. Tavares-Finson, who gave us the half that’s never been told (and then some).
Christian Tavares-Finson: I don’t know where this came from.
BOOMSHOTS: WELL MY PEOPLES AT COMPLEX DID A LITTLE DETECTIVE WORK—BECAUSE CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, JOURNALISM IS NOT DEAD. IT LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE WROTE A JOKE STORY ABOUT THE JAIL BREAK, AND SOMEBODY ELSE SET UP A FAKE TWITTER FOR KARTEL. THEY EVEN PUT A FAKE CHECK MARK ON IT TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE IT WAS A VERIFIED ACCOUNT. AND THE FAKE ONE HAD MAD FOLLOWERS BY THE WAY.
I’m sure it would.
AND IT LOOKS LIKE SOMEBODY AT MTV UK JUST PICKED THE STORY UP WITHOUT CHECKING ANYTHING.
And ran with it.
NOW “VYBZ KARTEL” IS A TRENDING TOPIC ON TWITTER—JUST IN TIME FOR MAVADO’S BIRTHDAY. SO WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THIS ALLEGED JAILBREAK?
Well we were in court with [Vybz Kartel] this morning, so as far as his location and his status he’s still in the custody of the police. He did attend court this morning. He was brought to court by the police. As far as if people are concerned with whether or not it’s true, or have any doubt, I think we can put that to rest. His defense team was in court this morning, and he was also present.
WHICH COURT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
This is the gun court division of the Magistrate’s Court in Kingston [Jamaica].
OK, NOT THE OLD GUN COURT PRISON, BUT AN ACTUAL COURT HOUSE.
It’s a court house. He appeared in court this morning to answer to the matter he was originally charged for, the murder of Barrington Burton.
IS THAT THE ONE THEY CALL LIZARD?
No, that is the one they call Bossy. That’s the original one. He’ll be in court again on the Friday of this week for the murder of the Lizard fellow, [Clive] Williams.
HOW MUCH OF THE PROSECUTION’S CASE HAS BEEN LAID OUT AT THIS POINT?
Essentially, we have been served with all the documentation that they intend to rely on. But I will tell you that there is a process of continuing disclosure. Something else can be served on us once proper notification is given to the defense. As it is here now, the prosecution is indicating that everything that they intend to rely on is on the file and it will be copied. Whatever hasn’t been served on the defense will be served on the defense.
HAVE YOU READ THE PRESS ACCOUNTS STATING THAT THERE IS VIDEO FOOTAGE OF A MURDER BEING COMMITTED?
As far as we are concerned, that is a rumor. I’m not sure who is starting that rumor. We haven’t seen anything whatsoever. We haven’t been served with any documentation whatsoever to even indicate that there is video footage at all. Whether or not it’s somebody speaking about it or actual footage of any incident, we haven’t been served with any documentation.
As far as incidents with escaping from custody, our position is very simple: it is an attempt to prejudice the case against Adidja Palmer. As it is here now, he’s going to go through a series of bail applications as the case progresses. When you have issues like these arising, it does create some concern for the public and the court itself.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CLIENT’S STATE OF MIND RIGHT NOW?
As always, he’s in good spirits. He has full confidence in his defense team, which he chose himself. As far as we’re concerned, we will make significant progress as time passes. We’re confident that, based on what we have seen, it is going to be very difficult for the prosecution to continue bringing cases against him.
BUT HE’S BEEN IN CUSTODY FOR TWO MONTHS NOW. WHY IS THAT?
It is as a result of the charges being serious. Allegations are that there are two separate offenses. It is not one; it is two. The court generally will form the view that you are a danger to the public, and possibly a danger to yourself. In those circumstances, it is quite difficult to secure bail for an individual who has more than one offense. It is not impossible. We have done it before, and that is the direction that we are going. We’re not going to allow any rumor or statement by the police to sidetrack the defense.
YOU MENTIONED THAT THE RUMOR ABOUT A VIOLENT JAILBREAK MIGHT BE AN ATTEMPT TO PREJUDICE THE CASE. WILL THIS BE A JURY TRIAL?
Eventually it will be a jury trial. When one considers the population of Jamaica, you have to realize that it is a small jury pool. Any sort of rumor or any story being carried that is not true will prejudice the jury pool. We have to be very careful. At the end of the day, we want him to have a fair trial. It’s not about prejudice one way or the other, but about a fair trial. That is what we are seeking as the defense.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT KARTEL HAS BEEN UNFAIRLY TARGETED BY THE POLICE FOR ANY REASON?
I wouldn’t really be able to comment on what motive the police would have. What I will say is, if it is that the police are operating under some sort of ulterior motive, it will come out at the end of the day. I hope they are very careful, if that is what they’re trying to do. We are confident that once we explore the matters in depth, we will see what it’s all about.
SPEAKING OF A FAIR TRIAL, YOU’VE DEFENDED OTHER DANCEHALL ARTISTS IN THE PAST. WHAT ARE THE SPECIAL CHALLENGES INVOLVED IN DEFENDING SOMEONE WHOSE MUSIC AND PERSONA MIGHT LEAD A JUROR TO FEEL LIKE HE’S A VIOLENT PERSON, SO HE’S PROBABLY INVOLVED?
That’s always a concern. What we really try to do is put aside the individual’s stage name or persona and reveal the individual as they are in reality. As far as we’re concerned, it is not Vybz Kartel that we are representing, it’s Adidja Palmer. That is how we approach all these matters that we deal with when it comes down to entertainers. [We deal with questions like] What are the allegations, What is the evidence, and can they stand up in court.
DO YOU KNOW IF KARTEL IS AWARE OF THE RUMORS THAT WERE ALL OVER THE INTERNETS TODAY?
WHAT WAS HIS RESPONSE?
He laughed! The sense of humor is still intact.
PS: Afflicted’s sense of humor appears to be intact too. Maaad.