Buju Banton

Buju Banton’s retrial for buying cocaine from a police officer has been pushed back until February 2011. According to U.S. District James Moody, the case that was originally scheduled for December was moved to early next year to accommodate Banton’s defense team. Media sources have said that a December trial date will have conflicted with the schedules of the defense attorney and witnesses, thus allowing the government to grant the delay.

According to the defense team, Banton’s attorney said in a motion that his client is now trying to get released from jail pending the retrial. The reggae artist born Mark Myrie was arrested in December 2009 for conspiring to purchase five kilos of cocaine from an undercover officer in Sarasota, Fla. Since his arrest Banton has been held without bail in a jail cell. While prosecutors maintained that the 37- year-old artist is guilty for attempting to purchase cocaine with the intent of distribution, his legal team argued in a statement, “In addition to refusing to disclose the identity, the government has refused to identify the prior cases in which he has been involved, the outcomes of those cases, the amount of money he has earned making cases for the government, or even the amount he has been paid … in this case.”

The husky-voiced Rastafarian singer, who has long been a star in his homeland, received a mistrial last month after jurors were not able to reach a verdict on the case following three days of deliberations. The judge initially stated the retrial would start in December but on Monday, November 1, he granted a motion to postpone it until next year.

Even though, the case has been postponed twice this year, in September, 2010, the troubled Jamaican reggae star took the stand to deny the charges against him. Instead he claimed that he had lied about his ambition to deal illegal substances to “impress” his officer friend.
If granted bail, Banton will have to pay for his own 24-hour security detail, wear an electronic monitor, be restricted to his home except when attending court, meeting with his lawyers or/and taking drug tests.

Let’s hope for Banton that comes Christmas, he will be a free man in order to spend the holiday season with his family and who knows depending of the outcome of his trial, maybe by next year, he might be able to record new music again.
“Rasta Got Soul” his ninth studio album released on April 21, 2009. It received a Grammy nomination in the Best Reggae Album category and featured the hit single “Magic City”.
To be continued…

By Valerie Varasse

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