Sep 29, 2010

Buju to be re-indicted before grand jury

Buju to be re-indicted before grand jury
Artiste, lawyer not allowed to attend hearing
BY PAUL HENRY Observer reporter

TAMPA, Florida — Prosecutor Jim Preston is expected to appear before a grand jury on Thursday in an effort to re-indict Reggae star Buju Banton on cocaine and firearm charges.

Preston had told the court on Monday — minutes after Banton's cocaine trial ended in a mistrial due to the inability of jurors to reach a verdict following three days of deliberations — that he would be seeking the re-indictment today.

Grand jury proceedings are secret and not open to the public.

Neither Buju Banton, whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie, nor his lawyer David Oscar Markus are allowed to be there.

Banton is to face retrial in early December. A date for the second trial is expected to be set during a bail hearing on October 6.

Banton was arrested on December 13 last year and charged with a count of conspiracy to possess and distribute five kilogrammes of cocaine and possession of a firearm during the furtherance of a crime.
Banton's arrest followed that of his two co-defendants Ian Thomas and James Mack, were nabbed attempting to buy cocaine from an undercover drug enforcement agent in a police controlled warehouse in Saratoga, Tampa.

Mack was in possession of the gun for which Banton is charged. He has since signed an affidavit that he did not know the Jamaican Reggae star before he was arrested and that Banton knew nothing about the gun or US$130,000 which was found in a secret compartment of a Honda motorcar he was driving.

The prosecution had contended during the trial that started on September 20 that Banton was in a conspiracy with the men to possess and distribute the cocaine.

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