GRAMMY-WINNING reggae artiste Buju Banton is said by his attorney to be “crushed” and “heartbroken” over yesterday’s decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to uphold his conviction and 10-year sentence on cocaine conspiracy and trafficking charges.
“I called him [Buju] and told him about the decision. He, like me, was heartbroken. He couldn’t believe it,” Buju’s lead attorney David Markus told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. “He believes that we were right and would win”
Markus appealed for fans of the artiste, whose real name is Mark Myrie, to show their support in these difficult times.
“He’s been strong for a long while, but this is a big blow for him,” added Markus.
Markus told the Observer that he will be visiting with Buju today to discuss the decision and the way forward, which is expected to include applying for a new trial.
“I truly believe that a good man is in jail for talking a big game. I will continue to fight for him,” Markus said.
The artiste was convicted last year February in a federal court in Tampa, Florida and later sentenced. Markus subsequently filed an appeal. The conviction and sentence followed a hung jury in September 2010, which set up the February retrial.
During the appeal hearing, Markus argued that US government informant Alexander Johnson had improperly entrapped his client.
The panel of three judges also agreed with the jury’s conviction of Banton on a gun possession charge, which the trial judge had dismissed after the verdict was read. The judges rejected Buju’s argument that his right to a speedy trial had been violated.
The appeal court did not consider Buju’s application for a new trial. Instead, the court said that the issue should be determined in the district court.
—Additional reporting by The Associated Press