Can now spend Christmas with family after prosecution appeal rejected
THE judge in the Buju Banton case has rejected the prosecution's appeal against a previous ruling that approved Banton's hiring of two security companies to ensure he stick to the conditions of his house arrest.
Banton has therefore been cleared to take up his bail bond.
He will stand trial again in February, after his legal team requested a change of date out of a desire for the artiste to spend time with his family this Christmas.
Banton was originally set for retrial in December, after a mistrial was declared in September when jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
"Buju really wants to spend some time with his family before the next trial," lead attorney Oscar David Markus told the Observer. "Hopefully this will give him a little breather before round two."
The motion was granted by United States District Judge James Moody. A specific date for the retrial was not set. After clearing this hurdle, Banton will have to seek bond in the immigration court in order to be released, as his entertainment visa was revoked following his arrest.
Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, is accused of conspiring to buy five kilogrammes of cocaine from an undercover officer in Sarasota, Florida. He was arrested last December after the arrest of two other men, Ian Thomas and James Mack, who later pleaded guilty. They will be sentenced this month.
The artiste was charged along with the men for possession of a firearm during the furtherance of a crime. The gun was actually in Mack's possession.
Banton was granted US$250,000 bail last month but wrangling between his legal team and the prosecution is preventing him from taking up the bail, which would see him being placed under immediate house arrest.
As part of the conditions, Banton can only leave home to purchase medication, attend court and see his attorney. Banton will also have to wear an electronic tracking device.