Buju's trial stalls - again
Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter
THE TRIAL of reggae superstar Buju Banton has again been pushed back, leaving the Jamaican to spend more time in an American jail before getting a chance to clear his name.
This has left the legal team of the reggae icon frustrated.
"The trial was pushed back to September 20 despite our objection," David Oscar Markus of Buju's legal team told The Sunday Gleaner.
"We are ready to go and Buju is looking forward to his day in court," Markus added.
United States District Judge James Moody Jr last Thursday granted a one-week delay in the start of the trial based on a request by attorneys representing one of Buju's co-defendants, James Mack.
Mack's lawyers had written to the judge seeking more time to prepare his defence.
"The court grants this continuance to allow defendant Mack additional time to prepare for trial. The court finds the ends of justice served by the continuance to allow the defendant more time to prepare outweighs the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial," the judge said in his ruling handed down last Thursday.
This is the fifth change in the scheduled start of a trial for Buju, who has been languishing in custody in Florida since last December when he was arrested on charges of conspiracy to possess cocaine, and aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.
Buju - whose correct name is Mark Myrie - Mack, and Ian Thomas were held following a sting operation by US law- enforcement officials.
Initially, their trial was set to begin on March 3, but due to conflicting reports, the defence moved to start the trial on April 12. The court granted the motion and set the trial to begin on April 19. This was later shifted to June 21, and then to September 13.
The new trial date is just over one week before the scheduled release of Buju's latest album titled Before The Dawn.
The album will contain 10 tracks that comprise some of the more prophetic songs written by Buju since his entry into the music business more than 20 years ago.
The album's unofficial anthem is Innocent.