The U.S. government says plenty of evidence supports a federal jury’s conviction of the Jamaican reggae star on cocaine conspiracy and trafficking charges.
Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, is appealing the February 2011 conviction. Defense attorney David O. Markus says his client was relentlessly pursued by a highly paid government informant, resulting in improper entrapment and was not given a speedy trial.
The prosecutors filed their own appeal on Friday, asking the Appeal Court to overturn the ruling of the trial judge and find Buju guilty of only the firearm charge. If the government gets it way and has the gun charge reinstated, an additional five years could be tacked on to the reggae legend’s decadelong sentence.
They argued that the lower court acted improperly in entering a judgment of acquittal after the jury had found him guilty.
“Because drugs and guns go together like peas and carrots, because a co-defendant’s possession of a dangerous weapon is foreseeable to a defendant who knows that his venture involves a large amount of drugs and cash … the evidence support the jury finding.”
Lawyers representing Buju filed an appeal asking the court to dismiss the charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and aiding and abetting others in using a communication facility in the commission of a felony.
But in response the US prosecutors said sufficient evidence supported the jury’s finding that Buju was guilty of conspiring to acquire cocaine.
Turning to the appeal on the basis of entrapment, the prosecutors argued that the evidence established that Buju was predisposed to engage in drug transactions.
The prosecutors brushed aside the claim that the Speedy Trial Act was violated because of the delay in starting the case.
The argued that no time had elapsed on the speedy trial clock before the start of the first trial on September 20, 2010 because all the delays were due to “pending motions and continuances in the ends of justice”.
Both the defense and the prosecutors have requested that the Appeal Court allows them to present oral arguments before ruling on the case.
Buju was found guilty in February 2011 and is now in a Federal prison serving a 10-year sentence.