Reggae Singer Buju Banton Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

24 Jun

Grammy award winning reggae singer, Buju Banton has been sentenced to ten years in a federal prison for drug offenses.

The Jamaican star, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was found guilty in February after a previous mistrial.

On June 23, 2011, Banton was convicted of 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 was arrested in December 2009 after FBI agents intercepted a drug deal in Florida.

At a federal court in Tampa, Florida, U.S. District Court Judge James S. Moody threw out the firearms conviction, saying he accepted Banton was not carrying a weapon and did not know that other men in the drug deal were armed.

The singer’s attorney, David Markus, said he could be free in six years, allowing for time already served and good behavior.

According to his attorney, Banton will appeal against the sentence.

The singer has been widely criticized– accused of making ‘murder music’ with homophobic lyrics.

His notorious 1988 hit “Boom Bye Bye” appears to incite the burning, shooting in the head and pouring acid over the faces of gay people.

The star claims he has not performed the song live for years but video footage appears to show him singing it at a concert in 2006.

There were accusations that Banton was being treated inhumanely in jail.

According to his attorney, because he “had the audacity to share his food with another inmate,” Banton was placed  in a maximum security wing where he was unable to prepare the vegetarian diet he requires for religious purposes, according to defense attorney David Markus. Banton is a Rastafarian.

Pinellas sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Tom Nestor said Banton was disciplined because he was “using food as currency.” He said inmates are told such behavior is prohibited.

Born in 1973, in Kingston, Jamaica,  Banton has a career that spans all over the world. In 2011, the day before his trial was to begin, he was announced as the winner of the ‘Best Reggae Album’ category at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards.

 

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