CaribWorldNews, TAMPA, FL, Fri. Jan. 8, 2010: Buju Banton`s newly hired top attorney insists his client is innocent and will not be seeking a deal with prosecutors.
`We will be going to trial,` top Florida defense attorney, David Oscar Markus, said Thursday at a bail hearing in Tampa federal court for the singer, born Mark Anthony Myrie.
`He did not commit the crimes he`s charged with. He was not in any conspiracy,` Markus added.
Earlier in court, the `Rasta Got Soul` singer, pleaded not guilty to conspiring to buy more than five kilograms of cocaine from an undercover law enforcement officer in Sarasota last month.
U.S. Magistrate Anthony Porcelli ordered the singer held without bail after Markus said he would not oppose the government`s request.
Markus told reporters after that if Banton is freed on bail he would be held by immigration officials. The attorney said he will focus now on fighting to have the detainer lifted before seeking bail on the criminal charges.
`There should be a presumption of innocence. Instead there is a presumption of guilt in immigration,` he said, adding there is `no question` his client would be allowed to post bail if not for the detainer.
Banton was arrested at his Tamarac home on Dec. 10, two days after federal authorities say he met with a confidential informant to discuss the drug purchase.
The Grammy nominated singer has faced controversy all year from gay rights activists who claim he is homophobic.
The criminal case against Banton is set for a status conference in February and tentatively set for a March trial.