Why is Vybz Kartel in jail? Sentence, condition, and more explored in wake of concerning 'life-threatening' illness

Reports of Vybz Kartel
Reports of Vybz Kartel's "life-threating" illness has gone viral (Image via Getty Images)

Reports of Jamaican musician Adidja Azim Palmer a.k.a Vybz Kartel, who is currently incarcerated, fighting for his life have left netizens concerned for his health. According to Lisa Evers of Fox5NY, the Bicycle Ride singer has been suffering from an autoimmune disease called Graves' Disease for seven years, which, coupled with his two alleged heart conditions, has made his present situation "life-threatening."

In her interview with the singer which aired on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, Evers claimed to have a medical certificate from Vybz Kartel's doctor, Karen Phillips, confirming the news. She added that despite being treated, the Graves disease had not gone into remission and would prove fatal if left untreated.


Kartel was arrested back in September 2011 for the murder of a Jamaican businessman Barrington Burton, but was released on bail. The same year, he was charged with the murder of another man, Clive Williams, and was found guilty on March 13, 2014, after a 65-day long trial and is currently serving time.

He is imprisoned at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Jamaica.

Vybz Kartel's attorney claims he is not in great shape after being locked in solitary for 23 hours a day

Following his trial, the 47-year-old singer was sentenced to life imprisonment with eligibility for parole after 35 years. Vybz Kartel was 38 years old at the time of his incarceration.

While serving his time at Horizon Adult Remand Centre in Jamaica, he met a Turkish social worker, Sidem Ozturk, in 2019 when she moved to the country to be close to the reggae singer. In summer 2022, the pair got engaged.

The King of Dancehall singer's lawyer, Isat Buchanan, went to visit him on Monday, May 29, 2023, and conveyed that he was not in great shape as he was locked up for 23 hours a day. The singer was reprimanded by authorities for two cellphone infractions in a span of three days. He stated:

"Mr Palmer’s (Kartel) condition is life-threatening... His face is actually (swollen) and as I said, one of the things is, he always wears glasses because the condition that he has causes his eyes to protrude."

According to Mayo Clinic, Graves' disease is an autoimmune disorder where the thyroid overproduces hormones. This is commonly called hyperthyroidism and bulging eyes are a common symptom of the disease.

Additionally, if left untreated, it can lead to "heart rhythm disorders and the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to the body or heart failure."

According to Evers from Fox5NY, Vybz Kartel's cell block is lacking proper ventilation and offers only a bucket as a toilet. She adds that the musician is appealing the conviction in a United Kingdom-based court.

Back in 2013, Vybz Kartel was rushed to the hospital, handcuffed by armed police officers after he complained of severe chest pain. Later in 2015, he was taken to the University Hospital of the West Indies due to severe skin inflammation.

However, when questioned, a warden, with the Department of Correctional Services in Jamaica, explained that a 23-hour lockdown is very common in the country.

Buchanan is currently in the process of filing an application for Kartel to be removed from the 23-hour confinement.

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Edited by Prem Deshpande
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