Lawyers for the Jamaican army today surprised a High Court judge, revealing that the three soldiers who shot and killed businessman Keith Clarke inside his St Andrew home in 2010 were granted immunity from prosecution by then Minister of National Security Peter Bunting.
Attorney-at-law Paul Beswick made the disclosure in the Home Circuit Court as the trial of the three soldiers was set to get underway.
“I hereby certify that the actions of JDF Corporal Odel Buckley on May 27, 2010 between the hours of 12 am and 12pm at 18 Kirkland Close, Red Hills, St Andrew, which may have contributed to or caused the death of Keith Clarke, were done in good faith in the exercise of his functions as a member of the security forces for public safety,” Beswick, said reading from one of the three immunity certificates.
He said there were similar certificates for the other two accused soldiers, Arnold Henry and Greg Tingling.
“Accordingly, we say they are valid unless they (the certificates) are successfully challenged. The defendants now claim immunity from this prosecution,” Beswick said in his submissions to the court.
He said the certificates carry the force of law “and must be treated as law, unless they are successfully challenged.”
Justice Glen Brown, who is hearing the submissions, indicated that he was surprised the issue was being raised at the time the trial was scheduled to start and questioned why it was not raised during case management.
Paula Llewellyn, the nation’s chief prosecutor, is to respond to the submissions shortly.
Clarke was killed by soldiers on May 27, 2010 in the hunt for then fugitive Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
A post mortem report indicated that he had received 20 bullets to his back.