Buju Banton's team questions ABC 's motive

By Brian Bonitto
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

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BUJU Banton's handlers are questioning the motive behind ABC News release of previously sealed surveillance video footage on Sunday. It was critical evidence in the entertainer's 2010 trial on drug charges in the United States.

“The timing of the ABC report raises many important questions: What purpose does this report serve? Why unseal this dated footage now, when Myrie is preparing to resume his life and career? And finally, why did a American news network that has previously shown little interest in Buju Banton's life and career choose to run a lengthy article that omits crucial and readily available information about the case against Mark Myrie?” read a media release, in part, sent to the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Buju Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, is currently incarcerated at the McRae Correctional Facility in Georgia. Having served a near 10-year sentence on drug charges, he is slated to be released on December 8 and deported to Jamaica.

On Sunday, ABC released undercover footage from his last meeting with a US Government informant. The network said its appeal to a federal judge to have the footage released was granted.

“It offers the most complete account of how Banton, 44, ended up in a US prison, convicted of two counts for his role in a conspiracy to sell cocaine,” said the ABC story accompanying the video. “But Banton has maintained his innocence, insisting he never intended to go through with a drug deal and was only guilty of 'running my mouth'.”

ABC News said its requests to Buju Banton for comment went unanswered.

The video footage, which is dated December 8 2009, shows four men, including the lanky artiste watching [government informant Alex Johnson] cut open a brick of what appears to be cocaine. The entertainer is seen tasting the substance and walking away.

Yesterday's release quotes Florida lawyer David Oscar Markus, who initially defended the entertainer.

“He fought two trials and numerous appeals against a system that included a corrupt juror. He could've taken a deal after the first hung trial that would've sent him home, but Mark's philosophy was: 'Better to fight on your feet than live on your knees,'” he was quoted as saying.

Banton's management thanked his supporters.

“Buju has learned from the past and made peace with the court's decision. For now his focus is on the future: returning to his family, recording music for his fans, and making a positive contribution to society. For everyone who is unable to offer any words of support, we ask that you please allow the artiste to continue his journey of redemption in peace and harmony as he works to rebuild his life and career,” the release ended.

Buju Banton exploded on the dancehall scene in the early 1990s with the hit song, Browning. His other hits include Champion, Driver and the 1995 album Til' Shiloh. His Before the Dawn won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album.


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