Long-incarcerated reggae superstar, Mark Myrie, more popularly known as Buju Banton will have to serve the remainder of his 10-year sentence on drug charges after agreeing a deal with U.S. prosecutors that saw an additional gun charge dropped.
The charge, which was originally slapped on him following his December 2009 arrest, was thought to have been dismissed in 2013 after it was found that a juror during Buju’s 2011 trial had unlawfully researched aspects of the case while it was proceeding. However, prosecutors reportedly threatened to reintroduce the charge if the entertainer continued with his appeal for a new trial, leaving Buju in a tough spot.
As a result, Buju must stop filing appeals and will no longer be held accountable for a gun carried by another man in the case. He will be released from U.S. federal prison in January 2019 as originally scheduled and will be deported from the country immediately.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the settlement was approved by U.S. district judge, James Moody last week.
“Nearly two years ago, Moody threw out a 2011 conviction on the gun count after finding that a juror had inappropriately researched a legal theory relating to the charge,” he said. “Banton wanted the other verdicts tossed, too, but recently lost an appeal, returning the matter to Tampa.”
In a statement issued by the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee, they insist Buju was pressured into making this deal, but he will remain strong as he serves out the rest of his time.
“In May 2015 the honorable and highly principled Buju Banton recognized the futility of continuing to seek justice in America. To avoid having an additional five years added to his sentence our Brother, Mark Myrie/Buju Banton, was pressured into an agreement to drop any further appeals of his unjust conviction. He is now resigned to serving out his sentence and being deported back to his native Jamaica in January 2019,” it read in part.
“We of the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee will remain vigilant over our dear brother as he continues to remain standing strong in the belly of the beast. Though his head may have been bloodied by the American criminal just-us system, it remains unbowed.”
Buju is currently being housed at McRae Correctional Facility in Georgia. He was convicted of three drug-related charges in February 2011 and sentenced later that year.