News

Buju's lawyer says informant was a desperate man

Jury shown video footage of Reggae artiste tasting contraband

BY PAUL HENRY Crime/court co-ordinator henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 | 4:56 PM    

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FLORIDA, United States — Lead attorney representing Buju Banton, David Markus, today painted a picture of chief US government informant Alexander Johnson, as a desperate man.

According to Markus, Johnson was eager to make money as he was in a financial crisis. Johnson allegedly made US$50,000 as a result of Banton's arrest.

The court was also shown damning video footage of Banton tasting cocaine at a location in Florida in 2009.

Banton is facing charges of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine; attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offence; and using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offence.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

Banton had originally been tried on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm during a drug-trafficking offence. His trial resulted in a hung jury last September.

He was arrested at his Tamarac home in South Florida in December 2009 and jailed for close to 11 months.

The trial, which is being held in the Sam M Gibbons Federal Court in Tampa, Florida, has been adjourned until tomorrow morning.

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