Oct 1, 2010

Prosecutor asks court to keep Buju locked up


Prosecutor asks court to keep Buju locked up
BY PAUL HENRY Observer staff reporter henryp@jamaicaobserver.com
Friday, October 01, 2010

TAMPA, USA — If the US Government has its way, Jamaican Reggae superstar Buju Banton will remain behind bars pending the outcome of his retrial in December on cocaine and gun charges.

In documents filed in the Sam M Gibbons Federal Court, James Preston, the Assistant US Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, said that Banton, whose registered name is Mark Myrie, was a flight risk, while urging that a bond motion filed on behalf of the entertainer should be rejected, "without any further hearing".

 Defence attorney David Oscar Markus had on Tuesday filed the motion for bond, a day after Banton's cocaine and gun-possession trial was declared a mistrial because a 12-member panel of jurors was unable to reach a verdict at the end of three days of deliberation.

Among other things, Markus stated in the document 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.

Markus stated in his filing that if the federal court were mindful to grant Banton bail, he would also seek bond in the immigration court to prevent his client's deportation so he could face his retrial.

The bail hearing is tentatively set for October 6, at which time a date for the retrial will be agreed.
But in his written objection, Preston charged that Markus failed to give legal support as to why his client should be released pre-trial, and noted that with this second motion for bond, Banton "wholly ignores the previous court order for his detention".

"The motion should therefore be denied," the prosecutor stated in the document.

Preston also rebutted the assumption by Markus that the Jamaican entertainer is not a flight risk because of his notoriety.

He added that Markus, in his motion, had failed to point out that the court had previously found that there were aggravating factors, based on the evidence, for Banton's detention outside of his immigration woes.
"The defendant has presented nothing new, other than a hung jury, for the court's consideration," Preston wrote, while adding, "The defendant again fails to rebut the presumption that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure that the defendant is not a risk of flight."

Banton has been in jail since his arrest last December 10 when he was charged, along with friend Ian Thomas and James Mack, for conspiracy to possess and distribute 5 kilogrammes of cocaine and possession of a firearm during the furtherance of a crime.

Both Thomas and Mack, who were arrested hours before Banton at a warehouse buying the drugs from an undercover agent, have since pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in November.

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