Jamaican reggae superstar Buju Banton won a small victory yesterday when he was offered bail by a judge in Florida in the United States (US).
Under the bail conditions, Buju, whose real name is Mark Myrie, will be required to post US$250,000 bond, pay for a round-the-clock security detail that must get the court’s approval, wear an electronic monitor and undergo drug testing.
“The court’s main concern is a risk of flight,” US magistrate judge Anthony Porcelli was quoted as saying in explaining the strict conditions.
When contacted, Buju’s lead attorney David Markus, told The Gleaner that the bail offer was “a positive development”, even though he did not indicate whether Buju would be able to meet all the conditions.
He, however, indicated that the entertainer, who has been in custody since last December, still has another legal hurdle to clear before he can be released from custody.
“We still need to get immigration bond,” Markus said in reference to the fact that Buju’s US visa has been revoked.
Marc Seitles, another member of Buju’s legal team, said the entertainer would “essentially be under house arrest” if he is able to satisfy the bail conditions.
This, Seitles said, means Buju would only be allowed to leave his home in Tamarac, Florida, to buy medications, attend court-ordered hearings or for meetings with his attorneys.
Buju’s legal team applied for bail after US judge Tim Moody declared a mistrial in the drug- possession case brought against the 37-year-old singer.
The mistrial was declared after a 12-member jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on whether Buju was guilty or not guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine.
The weeklong trial included recorded conversations between Buju and Alexander Johnson, a convicted drug dealer-turned-informant, who was paid US$50,000 for his work on the case.
Prosecutors also showed a video recording of Buju and former co-accused Ian Thomas meeting Johnson at a police-controlled warehouse in Sarasota, Florida, on December 8.
The recording appears to show Buju tasting a small quantity of cocaine.
Yesterday, Donovan Germain, Buju’s former manager and mentor, acknowledged the judge’s demanding bail stipulations but said a more friendly environment could only lift the deejay’s spirits.
“Psychologically, it’s good. At least he will be around family and friends in familiar surroundings,” Germain said.