Buju Banton: Reggae Star May Get Chance To Go Free On Cocaine Charges

Buju Banton was convicted in 2011 of a conspiracy to traffic cocaine, but now the husky voiced reggae star could have a chance to go free.

A lawyer for Banton said this week that a U.S. federal appellate court has agreed to hear arguments for an appeal.

“Mr. Buju Banton was pleased to learn that the 11th Circuit granted a new hearing of his appeal. We too are looking forward to the appellate argument,” said Charles Ogletree, a Harvard University law professor who took over Banton’s case in February.

Banton was convicted and sentenced to ten years for cocaine trafficking after he was arrested in a sting operation in 2009. After his first trial in 2010 ended with jurors deadlocked, Buju Banton was convicted in a re-trial the next year.

A jury convicted Banton on counts of “conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense.”

Banton’s former lawyer had claimed that a government information entrapped the reggae star, though a panel of the appellate court denied the arguments in 2012 and upheld the conviction.

Buju Banton is seen as a trailblazer in the reggae-rap hybrid between dancehall reggae and traditional reggae.

At his sentencing, Banton called on a number of celebrities to speak in his favor, including Jamaican government officials, fellow reggae stars, and even an NBA player. Actor Danny Glover was one of those who spoke in support of Banton, calling him a”role model, philanthropist and spiritual leader in the community.”

“Your honor, Mark Myrie is not a drug dealer,” Glover wrote, using Banton’s given name. “Society would not benefit from his incarceration.”

It was not clear when Buju Banton could have a hearing for an appeal, or when a re-trail might take place.

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