Oct 1, 2010

US gov’t fights Buju bail - Wants artiste’s application struck out


US gov’t fights Buju bail
Wants artiste’s application struck out
 By PAUL HENRY, Observer staff reporter

TAMPA, Florida — The US government is objecting to the motion for bail filed on behalf of jailed Reggae superstar Buju Banton. The motion filed by Assistant US Attorney James Preston in the Sam M Gibbons federal court here, has said that Banton's attorney has not given any legal support that the entertainer should be released pre-trial.

He said also that Banton “wholly ignored the court’s earlier detention order”.

“The motion should therefore be denied,” the prosecutor states in the document.

Preston also rebutted the assumption by Banton's attorney David Oscar Markus, that the Jamaican entertainer, whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie, is not a flight risk because of his popularity. As a result, Preston is asking that Banton's motion for bail be struck out without any further hearing.

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 jury was unable to reach a verdict at the end of three days of deliberation.

In his motion, Markus said, 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. Markus had said that if the court were mindful to grant Banton bail, he would also seek bond in the immigration court to prevent his client's deportation.

But in his filing against the motion, Preston pointed out that Markus failed to point out that the court had previously found that there were aggravating factors for Banton's detention outside of his immigration woes.
The bail hearing is tentatively set for October 6. A date for Banton’s retrial in December is scheduled to be announced on October 6.

Banton has been in jail since his arrest last December when he was charged, along with friend Ian Thomas and James Mack, for conspiracy to possess and distribute five 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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