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Lawyers mad over delay in Buju trial

Published:Friday | April 9, 2010 | 4:00 AM
Reggae superstar Buju Banton.

Lawyers representing reggae superstar Mark 'Buju Banton' Myrie are livid after the court yesterday announced another delay in the start of his trial.

"Mr Myrie is in custody and wants to go to trial as soon as possible," declared attorney-at-law David Markus, responding to the decision of the court to delay the start of the trial for more than two months.

Buju has been in custody since December 10 last year and was initially slated to face the court in March.

That was changed to April 12 before a final date of April 19 was set for the start of his trial on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime.

But in an order released yesterday, the US District Court in the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, announced that the trial had been rescheduled and would now start on Monday, June 21.

The court also announced that a status conference is to be held on Thursday, June 3, at the US Sam Gibbons Courthouse in Tampa, Florida.

No agreement on new date

This did not sit well with lawyers representing Buju, who immediately filed a motion for a status conference to discuss the trial date.

Markus yesterday argued that the court sua sponte (on its own will) rescheduled the trial at a disadvantage to Buju.

"The case was originally set for the March calendar, but because the case agent's wife was due to have a baby at that time, the defence agreed to a brief continuance," Markus noted.

"The parties agreed to a date of April 12, but because it was spring break in Tampa, the court suggested (and the parties agreed) that the case be set for April 19," added Markus.

Plans disrupted

He said the defence attorneys have been working very hard to be ready for the date and had put plans in place to begin the work to free the singer.

"We have potential witnesses flying in from Jamaica who have made their plans. We have made our flight and hotel plans. We have lawyers on the team flying in from Houston and Washington, DC, who have also made their flight and hotel plans."

According to Markus, the defence team is willing to have the case transferred to a different judge in its effort to have the case begin earlier than the June 21 schedule.