News

Buju wants to be absent from sentencing hearing

BY KARYL WALKER Online news editor walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 14, 2012 | 9:06 AM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Incarcerated Reggae star Buju Banton, has requested that he not be present at his sentencing on a firearm charge in the US District Court in Tampa, Florida next month. A member of Banton's legal team Ihmotep Alkebu-lan told the Jamaica Observer that the artiste has made a formal request that he be absent from the hearing.

"He has asked not to be transported from prison to the court for the sentencing," Alkebu-lan said.

He is currently being housed at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Miami, a low security prison.

However Banton will have to wait on a court ruling to find out if his request will be granted.

Banton had appealed his 10-year sentence after being found guilty on cocaine related charges but the appeal was thrown out by an Appellate Court based in the state of Georgia.

The court also re-instated a firearm charge that was dismissed by judge James Moody. Moody reasoned that Banton had never spoken to or met his co-defendant James Mack, who was held with Ian Thomas in a government controlled warehouse attempting to but a large quantity of cocaine. The gun was found in a hidden compartment of a car Mack was driving.

Both men pleaded guilty and were sentenced to five years but Banton has maintained his innocence and claimed the US government entrapped him by hiring the services of convicted drug dealer turned government informant Alexander Johnson.

Banton faces an additional five years on the firearm charge.

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