J'can murder suspect who fled to Cayman fights deportation, cites 'right to life'

Thursday, September 21, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — A Jamaican man accused of killing a man last December before fleeing to the Cayman Islands, is seeking to prevent deportation from that nation, because he contends his “right to life” may be in danger.

Read: J'can wanted for murder arrested in Cayman

According to records filed with the Cayman Islands Grand Court this month, O'Brien Ellis, 29, who was arrested in Cayman for illegal landing, is seeking a court declaration that an order to return to Jamaica would violate his right to life as well as prohibitions against torture and inhumane treatment in Cayman's Constitution Order, 2009.

The Cayman Compass reported that up to yesterday, Ellis had not been deported and the matter was still before the courts.

It is also said that Ellis's attorneys argued that if he is convicted of aggravated murder in Jamaica, he could face the death penalty.

“Consequently, his removal or deportation to a country exposing him to such penalty would be in breach of the constitution of the Cayman Islands,” a Grand Court judicial review application filed September 5 stated.

“Furthermore, the prison conditions of Jamaica are such that removal to Jamaica to custody … would also constitute a violation of the prohibition on torture and inhumane treatment.”

Ellis is wanted in connection with the December 6, 2016 killing of Steadman Sterling, who is believed to be his brother.

He is charged with murder; however, his Cayman attorneys, according to the Cayman Compass, pointed out that certain characteristics of the crime could lead to it being classified as “aggravated murder” at sentencing if Ellis is convicted.

In Jamaica, the only crime punishable by the death penalty is aggravated murder.

“The summary [of the crime, given to Cayman immigration officers] refers to a report having been made to [Jamaican] police that morning by the deceased [Sterling], who was later shot,” the Grand Court filing stated.

“For that reason, were he to be returned to Jamaica, [Ellis] would be at real risk of the death penalty pursuant to the provisions of the Jamaica Offenses Against the Person Act.

“The order sought is necessary to protect perhaps the most fundamental human right of all, the right to life.”
The Grand Court initially heard the matter on September 12 but made no finding on the request for judicial review, adjourning the application and permitting the applicant to file it at a later date if he wished, the Cayman Compass reported.

The court considered that the proceedings “remained live” and that Cayman's chief immigration officer should give at least 14 days' written notice to the person being removed or deported from the islands, as well as to their legal counsel.

Justice Marlene Carter, who signed the September 12 order, noted that the Immigration Department, the Attorney General's Chambers and the governor's office would undertake to provide such advance notice if a deportation order was issued.

The order also sought Cayman authorities to undertake “to communicate with the Jamaican authorities regarding the possibility of obtaining an assurance that [Ellis] shall not be sentenced to death if returned to Jamaica.”




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