UNITED STATES Magistrate Anthony Porcelli today approved a security company that Jamaican Reggae star Buju Banton has contracted to provide security while he is on bail, despite the objections of the prosecution.
Porcelli also approved a Miami property that was put up as collateral for Banton’s bond by Stephen Marley, son of Reggae king Bob Marley.
Attorney Marc Seitles, who handled the hearing on Banton’s behalf, was delighted at the outcome.
“We achieved a bond today and we are happy that Judge Porcelli reaffirmed that Buju is entitled to be released on bond,” Seitles told the Observer.
However the artiste’s bid for freedom has hit yet another snag as prosecutor James Preston signaled his intention to appeal the ruling. The prosecution has five days within which to file its appeal.
Banton’s lead attorney David Markus was livid at the repeated attempts by Preston to keep his client behind bars, describing the prosecutor’s attitude as “disheartening”.
Banton, whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie, will be required to wear a tracking device and pay for the security detail which will be watching him 24 hours a day pending the outcome of his retrial in December.
He will also be placed under house arrest and can only leave his Tamarac, South Florida home to purchase medication, see his attorney or attend court.
If Banton successfully beats back the appeal, he will have to seek another bond in the immigration court as his entertainment visa was revoked upon his arrest last December.
Banton is facing a charge of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine. His two co-defendants Ian Thomas and James Mack have both pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in November.
Both were collared by Drug Enforcement Agents after attempting to buy drugs from undercover agents in a police controlled warehouse in Sarasota, Florida.
Banton has maintained his innocence and has rejected a plea bargain deal, offered to him by prosecutors. He claims he was entrapped by government informant Alexander Johnson.
The artiste’s trial in September ended with a hung jury.