I hardly knew about the imprisoned reggae artist Jah Cure until his songs I Know Jah Jah Bless Me and Longing For became Number One hits in 2004, remaining so for several weeks and months and making him even more popular. The journalist in me was intrigued by the growing number of calls on radio and stage shows to Free Jah Cure, and I decided to learn more about this interesting piece of music history.
My thoughts crystalized when a friend brought Jah Cures mother to my house one day after they had both visited him in St. Catherine District Prison. With my video camera, I filmed an interview with Mama Cure, asking for her story of her sons case and imprisonment. It was the beginning of a documentary film and detailed look into Jah Cures case. Now that recent media exposure has brought it into the public spotlight, I reveal some of my findings discovered from various articles and sources, including recent statements from the alleged victims side, that uncover a Pandoras box of many questions surrounding the case.
Question: How was Jah Cure identified as the victims attacker?
Jah Cures arrest took place at 1:00 a.m. in the early morning hours, when a police detective hauled him out of his car as he was coming from a club and confronted him with his accuser. Asked by the detective if she recognized Jah Cure as her rapist, her only reply was that she recognised his voice. This middle night confrontation was the only ID parade conducted prior to the trial. Persons who read a recent media article in which the victim related the car ride in which she was abducted with her aunt, the conversation she had with her rapist in the car, how he looked in the glove compartment for the condom she requested, and that his face was so close to her she could smell his ganja breath, will wonder why the victim was unable to visually identify Jah Cure as her attacker.
Question: Where is the other man who allegedly participated in the rape?
Though the incident allegedly involved two male rapists, Jah Cure is so far the only person arrested and charged. As the arrest was taking place in the street, the girl pointed to a man in the crowd that gathered to see what was happening and said See the other one there! The man was held by the police, though subsequently released.
Question: Where is the statement from the aunt who was also allegedly raped, and where is her testimony?
There is no answer to this question.
The EVIDENCE, OR LACK OF IT
Question: What evidence was produced to convict Jah Cure?
A dark cloud over this arrest and subsequent trial is the fact that from information received, it is my understanding that at the time of the arrest, the chief detective in the case is alleged to have been the live-in partner of the accusers mother. The victims uncle is one of the well-known Jamaicans fighting deportation to the US to answer drug charges, providing another view of the tap dance that takes place between the music industry and the drug trade. Despite recent media reports to the contrary, court transcripts state that Jah Cure provided an alibi that he was in Kingston at the time of the incident, but no witness was called to corroborate his story.
Question: Is there DNA evidence that can be produced?
It has been brought to my attention that no DNA test was done of Jah Cure using evidence collected from the victim, despite modern criminal procedures in rape cases. I also am informed that the victim herself was not examined by a doctor, nor was a vaginal swab taken from her that could now be tested. All this is preventing Jah Cure from undergoing a DNA test to prove his innocence and receive a pardon for his incarceration.
Question: On what basis did the jury convict Jah Cure?
Despite recent media reports, Jah Cure did not receive a jury trial, but was convicted and sentenced to a 16-year jail term by a Magistrate in the Gun Court, as it was alleged that a gun was used during the rape. Given the circumstances of the case, I believe a jury would have found reasonable doubt to acquit Jah Cure. The gun charge was thrown out on appeal as no evidence of a gun was ever produced other than the victims allegations.
Question: Is it true that Jah Cures case was a set-up to get money from a wealthy entertainer?
Persons around Jah Cure say that up to the day of the sentencing, Jah Cure was being told that payment of JA$2 million, a US visa, and a car would ‘make the problem disappear. So convinced was he of his innocence and the impossibility of conviction, Jah Cure refused to settle the case with money. Some urban legends surrounding the case say that Jah Cure and the girl were in a relationship, though Jah Cure denies this. He also adamantly states that at no time did he or his mother produce a girl claiming to be his baby mother.
Question: What role did Jah Cure’s lawyer play in the trial?
Another dark cloud covers Jah Cures legal representation before, during and after the trial. In a legal profession where a lawyer can make more money on the appeal case, unscrupulous lawyers can downplay efforts to secure a clients freedom in a case that seems difficult to win. No witnesses were called by the defense to support Jah Cures alibi that he was nowhere near the scene of the incident. Like so many other cases involving inner city youths, Jah Cure seems to have suffered from poor, indifferent representation by a lawyer around whom rumours of drug abuse circulate.
MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
The answers for the above questions should greatly assist in securing parole for Jah Cure. The Minister of National Security and Justice has done a great deal to provide as many facilities as possible for the proper functioning of the Jamaican justice system, but in light of the many unanswered questions, the system seems to have failed to provide a fair trial for Jah Cure. In the meantime, Jah Cure has become a role model for young males and an example of the efforts of the prison rehabilitation system to assist those in similar circumstances.
Born Siccature Alcott, Jah Cure was the second of four children for his mother Pansita and the only one for his father. Always singing as a youth, music provided his only escape and his fame as an artist began while he was a teenager recording several songs that soon became popular and made a name for him.
Today, Jah Cures Reflections has become a song for the nation, echoed by people all over the country and played repeatedly each day on local Jamiacan and international radio stations. While he waits in prison, the frustrations and the rigours of prison weigh heavily on him, especially threats and attempts on his life. He continues to declare his innocence of the crime for which he was convicted.
In a recent message Jah Cure states his case decisively: This is a painful situation for all involved, especially the girl. But I am not the cause of her pain. Every night I pray to JAH to find the real person and release me from this terrible condition. My music brings healing and I am waiting for the time when I can spread this healing across the nation and the world.
The team working behind the scenes to expose the facts surrounding Jah Cures case and secure his release includes prominent lawyers, businessmen, music personalities and an overwhelming mass of support from a music-loving public that continues to believe Jah Cure is innocently imprisoned. The many questions surrounding the case are what keeps everyone watching and working to free Jah Cure.
Read the Jahworks.org interview with Jah Cure
Read the Yardflex interview with Jah Cure