KINGSTON, March 7 (Reuters) – Jamaica’s Supreme Court convicted a well-known crime boss on Tuesday in a landmark trial, marking a win for the Caribbean island’s recently reformed anti-gang laws.
Andre “Blackman” Bryan was found guilty of leading the One Don faction of the Klansman gang, which persecuted a community on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica’s capital. Bryan has also been found guilty of facilitating several murders.
The conviction is a victory for the government’s crime-fighting efforts, according to a senior police official. The ruling follows a series of judicial reforms aimed at reining in rampant gang violence.
“This is a win for law enforcement, a win for the criminal justice system and a win for Jamaica,” said Fitz Bailey, deputy police commissioner for the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
A lawyer for Bryan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Police statistics show gang activity accounts for 70% of murders in the country of just under 3 million. Jamaica has one of the highest homicide rates in the region, and is also considered a major transit point for drug smuggling.
Dozens of other defendants are also on trial alongside Bryan, part of a 25-count indictment made up of charges including arson and murder.
Some of the defendants, all of whom pleaded not guilty, are still awaiting a verdict. Five others have been released due to insufficient evidence since the trial began in 2021, while another suspect was killed.
Bryan is awaiting sentencing, though the maximum jail term he faces was not immediately clear.
Recent judicial reforms allow judges to convict defendants based on a wider range of offenses, which could increase the length of prison sentences.