Buju Banton must wait awhile
JAILED Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton will have to spend another anxiety-filled week behind bars in the United States before he knows whether or not he will be granted bail, pending his December retrial on cocaine and gun possession charges.
Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli yesterday reserved judgement until a week’s time after hearing arguments for bond from attorney David Oscar Markus and opposing arguments from prosecutor James Preston.
“The judge took it under advisement and will deliver his decision in one week. He wants to think about it,” a source close to the case told the Observer.
The morning hearing was in-camera and only Banton’s lawyers and the prosecution were allowed to attend.
Markus yesterday confirmed that judgement was reserved in the matter but declined to comment further.
Markus had argued, among other things, that Banton was not a flight risk because of his fame, and that he was only denied bail before his trial that started on Monday, September 20 due to the revocation of his entertainment visa upon his arrest.
He told Porcelli that if granted bail, his client would seek bond in the immigration court to prevent his client’s deportation so he could face his retrial.
But Preston has staunchly opposed bail on several grounds including that Banton, whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie, is indeed a flight risk and asked for the application to be denied.
A date for Banton’s retrial is expected to be set when the ruling is handed down next week.
The application for bail comes after a panel of 12 jurors were unable to reach a verdict, after three days of deliberations, as to whether or not Banton was guilty of conspiring with two other men, James Mack and Ian Thomas, to possess and distribute five kilogrammes of cocaine. The artiste was also being tried for possession of a firearm during the furtherance of a crime.
Mack and Thomas had pleaded guilty before the September 20 start of Banton’s trial and will be sentenced next month. All three men were arrested last year December.
Banton is being held at the Pinellas County Jail in Tampa, Florida.
Following yesterday’s bail hearing Banton, through his attorney, again thanked his fans worldwide for their prayers. “Buju thanks everyone for their support,” Markus told the Observer.