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Jamaican music star Vybz Kartel sentenced to life for murder

By Horace Helps

KINGSTON (Reuters) - A Jamaican judge sentenced an international reggae-dancehall star, Vybz Kartel, to life imprisonment on Thursday after he was found guilty of murder last month.

Kartel, 38, who is also known as ‘World Boss' had been on trial for the murder of one of his former associates, Clive Williams, popularly known as ‘Lizard.'

Williams was murdered in August 2011 after a business deal went sour, prosecutors said.

Jamaica is known internationally as the birthplace of reggae, with its most famous artist, the legendary Bob Marley considered a national hero.

Dancehall is a more modern offshoot of reggae, though critics have accused its lyrics of being violent, misogynistic and homophobic. It rose to prominence in the 1990s and remains immensely popular on the island.

Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, will not be eligible for parole for 35 years, according to the sentence handed down by Supreme Court Justice Lennox Campbell.

The singer's three other co-accused were also given life sentences.

Fellow singer Shawn Campbell, known by the stage name Shawn Storm, will have to serve 25 years before he becomes eligible for parole, while Kahira Jones and Andre St John will spend 25 and 30 years behind bars respectively before they can be paroled.

Attorneys for the convicted men said they will appeal the sentences.

"We want to see how early we can get the transcript to prepare our grounds for appeal," Campbell's attorney Miguel Lorne told journalists outside Jamaica's Supreme Court.

Williams was part of the popular Gaza Empire, a music-based group which Kartel headed.

A fifth accused, Shane Williams, was freed by an 11-member jury at the end of a two-month trial.

The jury voted 10-1 to convict the four men in the longest murder trial in Jamaica's history. However, the lone dissenting juror has since been charged with perverting the course of justice after he was accused of trying to bribe other jurors into freeing the men.

(Additional reporting by Aileen Torres-Bennett; Editing by David Adams and James Dalgleish)

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