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Judge to rule Wednesday on use of soldiers' immunity certificates in Keith Clarke murder case

By Clinton McGregor   
 
A High Court judge is to rule on Wednesday whether defence attorneys can rely on the certificates of immunity issued in 2016 by the Minister of National Security, protecting members of the Jamaica Defence Force against prosecution, in the 2010 fatal shooting of businessman, Keith Clarke.
 
Justice Dale Palmer is to hand down his ruling following a three-week preliminary hearing into the matter.
 
In January 2023, the Court of Appeal struck down a ruling by Jamaica's Constitutional Court that the certificates of immunity issued to the three soldiers accused of killing the businessman were invalid and that the trial should proceed.
 
The Appellate court had also ordered that a preliminary process be conducted by a judge, sitting without a jury, before an arraignment or trial.
 
In 2018, attorneys for the Jamaica Defence Force surprised prosecutors with certificates of immunity for each of the accused soldiers.
 
The certificates of immunity were signed in 2016 by then Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, six years after Mr. Clarke's death.
 
Mr. Clarke's widow, Claudette, then challenged the validity of the certificates.
 
The Constitutional Court ruled in February 2020 that the immunity certificates were invalid, null, and void and that the soldiers should stand trial.
 
Corporal Odel Buckley, Lance Corporal Greg Tinglin, and Private Arnold Henry are to go on trial for the shooting death of Mr. Clarke at his Kirkland Heights residence in St. Andrew on May 27, 2010.
 
The businessman was shot 21 times during a military operation to apprehend then fugitive drug lord Christopher 'Dudus' Coke. 


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