Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Tuesday Feb. 22, 2011, 2:30pm, as Tweets and Facebook updates from various artist and fans of Buju Banton fills time lines, it's clear this has to be the saddest day in reggae music in some time.
Mr. Vegas tweets, "Sad day in music!!!!!!!! Buju guilty",
Macka Diamond tweets, "Sad"
Babyface of King Addies tweets, "DEM BATTTTTTTTTTTTTYBWOY DEM STARRRRRRRRRRRR, TIL SHILOH WE CHANT RASTAFARI'S NAME.....",
Dancehall.mobi tweets, simply "wow".
It's been a long road for Buju in this drug conspiracy trial. The first trial ended in a hung jury, this second one seals Buju's fate.
Jamaica's reggae superstar Buju Banton, real name Mark Myrie, has been found guilty of three cocaine related charges.
A 12 member jury a short while ago delivered the verdict in the Sam M Gibbons building in Tampa which houses the United States Middle District Court, Florida Division.
Buju was tried last week on four charges.
Buju throughout the maintained he is innocent of the charges saying he play no part in any conspiracy to possess cocaine.
In denying the claims against him, Buju, though his attorney David Oscar Markus, argued that the artiste never became a willing participant of the cocaine conspiracy charged in the superseding indictment.
The defence said tasting the cocaine, talking about cocaine and simply being present at the warehouse is not sufficient to find Buju guilty of the crimes charged.
This trial, which began on February 14, was the second attempt of the US government to convict the Jamaican artiste. A first trial last year was declared a mistrial after jurors failed to arrive at a unanimous position.
Buju was arrested on December 10, 2009.
His long-time friend Ian Thomas and a James Mack were arrested the same day when they attempted to by cocaine from undercover detectives in a Florida warehouse. Thomas and Mack pleaded guilty but Buju denied the charges. He said he decided to fight in federal court because he knows he is innocent.
ATTORNEY representing Reggae star Buju Banton, David Oscar Markus, has signalled his intention to appeal the guilty verdict that was handed down in the United States Sam Gibbons Federal Court today.Banton was declared guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offence and using the wires to facilitate a drug-trafficking offence by a 12-member panel of jurors. However he was found not guilty of attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. The artiste hugged Markus when the verdict was read while many of his supporters left the courtroom crying. He has been detained and has had his bail revoked. Banton was arrested at his Tamarac home in South Florida in December 2009, a day after his co-defendants Ian Thomas and James Mack were arrested in a government controlled warehouse in Tampa, Florida attempting to buy cocaine from Drug Enforcement Agents. He was jailed for almost 11 months in the Pinellas County Jail and his first trial in September last year ended in a hung jury forcing US Judge Tom Moody to order a retrial.
The artiste has consistently pleaded his innocence and claims he was entrapped by the US government.
Updates as they become available.