Dancehall artiste Tommy Lee Sparta, who was detained for over a month under the state of emergency (SOE) in St James, was released on Monday, and his lawyer has pledged to file a $100 million lawsuit against the state for damages.

“Tommy Lee’s original detention was not only ill-conceived, it was maliciously orchestrated,” attorney Ernie Smith told Reporters.

“We will be filing an action in the Supreme Court alleging false imprisonment and restraint of trade. For several years, promoters in the western end of the island, from St James, Trelawny, Hanover have been told by the police to scratch Tommy Lee from their events or their permits will not be granted. That is tantamount to restraint of trade, as, for over five years, they have tried to destroy his career by preventing him from earning,” Smith said.

Smith added that his client will be seeking damages of $100 million.

According to Smith, his client’s release is a clear vindication of his argument that his client was wrongly detained under the SOE. The artiste had been detained since July 7th.

“The tribunal handed down their findings on Monday ruling that the evidence was insufficient to keep Leroy Russell [the entertainer’s given name] detained in the interest of public safety and that he should be released immediately. That means that with or without the SOE, my client would have been set free,” Smith said.

Under the SOE, a person can be detained for up to 90 days without being charged.

Tommy Lee Sparta has had several brushes with the law. He was listed as a person of interest by the police in 2014 and 2017 for shooting incidents. He was, however, questioned and released.

In 2015, the Montego Bay police prevented him from performing on Reggae Sumfest for “fear of patrons’ safety”.

A former member of Vybz Kartel’s Portmore Gaza Empire, Tommy Lee got his musical break in 2012. He is known for songs such as ‘Blessings’, ‘Rich Badness’, ‘Spartan Soldier’, ‘Spartan Angel’, and the perennial favourite, ‘Psycho’.

Credit: Loop News

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