Banton will testify

David Markus, the lawyer for
Jamaican Reggae artiste Buju Banton says his client will be taking the witness
stand in his own defence against drug charges in the US.

The trial began this week in the US
Middle District Court of Florida, Tampa Division, nine months after the singer
was arrested.

In court prosecutors alleged that
Buju was an established drug trafficker before he tried to buy cocaine from an
undercover cop in Florida last year.

Assistant US Attorney James Preston
told the jury that in a recorded conversation Buju had asked government
informant, Alexander Johnson if he had any contacts where he could get cocaine.

Preston also alleged that Buju was
looking for new and different money through a new conspiracy, in addition to
drug deals he already had funded.

Since his arrest in December last
year, Buju whose real name is Mark Myrie, has been held without bail on charges
of conspiring to distribute cocaine.

He is also charged with carrying a
firearm during the course of a drug-trafficking crime.

The four-time Grammy nominee faces
a possible life sentence if convicted.

However, his attorney, David
Markus, has insisted that Buju did not participate in any conspiracy to sell
cocaine, even if he did talk with the informant about drug deals.

According to Markus, Buju talked a
lot and he did taste the cocaine but he was not a drug dealer and was not part
of the deal.

Banton and an associate allegedly
negotiated with an informant to buy the cocaine.

They and a third man reportedly met
with an undercover officer in a Sarasota warehouse on 8 December last year to
buy the drugs.

The informant told Drug Enforcement
Administration agents that he saw the singer inspecting the cocaine and tasting
it from his finger.

Markus is trying to prove that Buju
was a victim of a ‘set-up’ in the incident which was captured on video.

Buju’s two co-defendants James Mack
and Ian Thomas have pleaded guilty and have agreed to testify against him.