PHOTO: Jamaica Observer
The artiste was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine, attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and using the wires to facilitate a drug-trafficking offence. However he was found not guilty of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offence. The artiste hugged his lawyer David Markus when the verdict was read.
This was Banton's second trial, which began on February 14, only one day after winning the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. Jurors returned their verdict on Tuesday, their second day of deliberations.
Banton's first trial ended in September 2010 in a hung jury.
The 37-year-old singer, born Mark Myrie, was arrested in December 2009 following a sting operation. The Jamaican national was charged with conspiring to buy more than five kilograms of cocaine from undercover federal agents. The singer faced four drug-trafficking and weapons charges and more than 20 years in prison. Despite video and audio surveillance, Banton maintained that he was "set up."
Last week, the court heard audio recordings of the conversations between Buju Banton and a federal informant arranging a cocaine deal. The reggae superstar blamed his financial problems on gay activists, specifically the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
In recent years, gay activists in North America and Europe have called attention to Banton's lyrics and so-called "murder music" which incite violence and call for attacking, torturing and killing gays. Banton's recent North American and European tour dates have met with protests, demonstrations and cancellations. In October 2009, San Francisco-based LGBT activists met with Banton and afterwards the reggae singer's anti-gay rhetoric appeared even more hardened: "This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs, 'There is no end to the war between me and faggot'."
Jamaican news coverage of Buju Banton's arrest has attempted to link his legal problems to his anti-gay views.
You take care now, Mark. Boom boom bye-bye.
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