Feb 11, 2011

Legal Troubles Pile Up For Buju


Reggae superstar Buju Banton has failed in his renewed attempt to have one of his initial co-defendants, James Mack, testify at his new trial.

That was one of three crushing blows to hit Buju on Wednesday by the United States District Court in the Middle District of Florida.

As was expected, the court dismissed Buju's attempt to have the trial take place with him facing only the two initial charges.

The court also rejected his motion to dismiss newly created transcripts and to use the ones which featured in the first trial.

When he enters the court on Monday morning, Buju, whose real name is Mark Myrie, will now face charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, attempting to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm during the course of a drug-trafficking crime and using a communication facility in the commission of an act constituting a felony.

Mack, who has already pleaded guilty to the charges, had invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify at the original trial.

His lawyers subsequently indicated that the position would not change this time around.

But lawyers representing Buju had urged the judge to have Mack in court and have him testify.

Sworn statement

Last August, Mack gave a sworn statement in which he declared that he had never spoken to Buju.

In that statement, Mack also declared that the money and gun found in the car when he was arrested did not come from Buju.

That would be a boost for Buju in his retrial but the court on Wednesday held that, with Mack yet to be sentenced, there was nothing new to prevent him from pleading the Fifth.

In the meantime, the court has modified Buju's bail conditions to allow him to travel to Tampa on Sunday for the trial.

However, the security detail will remain in place and will be responsible for Buju at all times, except when he is the courthouse.

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