Buju fans petition US Attorney General

Says incarceration without bail unconscionable

BY PAUL HENRY Observer staff reporter henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 11, 2010

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FANS of jailed Jamaican Reggae star Buju Banton are seeking to have 15,000 signatures on a petition to United States Attroney General Eric Holder urging his intervention to thwart efforts to keep Banton locked up.

Banton is facing a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine.

He has been in jail since last December when he was arrested by Federal agents at his home in Tamarac, South Florida.

He will be retried in December after a panel of jurors failed to come to a unified decision on his guilt or innocence after three days of deliberation last month.

His attorney David Markus has filed for bail for Banton but prosecutors in the case are asking a Judge to keep him behind bars until the retrial begins.

Below is the letter which was sent to the Observer. The artiste's supporters are asking fans worldwide to sign the petition and send it to Holder before Banton's a decision is made on his bail application.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue,
NW Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Holder:
I am writing to ask for your intervention with respect to a grave injustice against Grammy-nominated reggae music icon Buju Banton (legal name Mark Anthony Myrie).

The incarceration of this legendary musician without bail is unconscionable. He has been incarcerated in the Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater, Florida since January 2010 while he awaited his trial for drug conspiracy charges in the Middle District of Florida for which he has pleaded not guilty.

The charges are a result of information provided by a professional informant who relentlessly pursued Mr. Myrie for six months to participate in a drug deal.

The trial held in September resulted in a hung jury.
In our great system of justice the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, persons accused of crime are entitled to bail. Mr. Myrie meets all of the requirements for bail, yet it has not been granted.

The professional informant in Mr. Myrie's case is a convicted drug trafficker from Colombia. This convicted felon has been granted legal immigration status and to date has earned over three million American dollars (tax free) for serving as an informant to various U.S. government agencies. Taxpayer dollars certainly could be spent more effectively than on trying to entrap individuals who have no previous criminal record and have never been involved with drugs in any manner.

Is the Federal government presently in the business of creating criminals?

Mr. Myrie, a.k.a. Buju Banton, produces uplifting, positive music comparable to the music of Bob Marley. His work inspires people worldwide. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award, the highest achievement in his field, four times since 1999. He is one of the leading voices of his generation, shedding light on such issues as the unrelenting violence and abject poverty pervasive in the Third World.

He has also represented his country in performances at the Summer Olympics in Greece in 2004 and at the Cricket World Cup Opening in 2007. Buju commemorated Jamaica's support for President Obama collaborating with Dave Stewart on "American Prayer," a tribute to the President. Additionally, Buju is a family man, an employer and a generous philanthropist.

Given Buju Banton's exemplary reputation, his humanitarian efforts and his cultural contributions to society, he should not be languishing in jail at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.

I urge you to do whatever possible to end this injustice.

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