Buju cleared to take up bail bond


International reggae singer Buju Banton could be out of jail by next week.

This is after United States Federal District Judge James Mood denied a prosecution appeal regarding the musician's bail.

The prosecution had appealed against a previous ruling that approved the artiste's hiring of two security companies to ensure he stick to the conditions of his house arrest, as a condition for bail.

This clears the way for Buju, whose real name is Mark Myrie, to take up his bail bond.

The Jamaican reggae star has been behind bars since his arrest in December on federal drug trafficking charges.

A jury deadlocked in September, and another trial is scheduled for February.

"We are hopeful he will be able to sleep in his own bed by the end of next week," David Oscar Markus, Buju's lawyer said.

"The next step is posting the bond. Then we will address the immigration issues," he added.

Immigration authorities have placed a detainer on the singer, so if he is released from jail in the criminal case, an immigration judge will then determine whether to release him.

Last week, US Magistrate Anthony Porcelli ruled that Buju, 37, could be released under stringent conditions.

However, he stayed his ruling to allow the prosecution to appeal to U.S. District Judge James Moody.

Moody denied the appeal without comment.

Under the terms of Buju's bond, he must post US$300,000 worth of equity in the South Florida home of his friend reggae star Stephen Marley, son of icon Bob Marley.

Buju must also hire a private security detail to guard him so he does not flee.

Buju was required to sign an extradition waiver, ensuring his return if he flees the country, and will have to wear an electronic monitoring device.

Buju is charged with conspiracy to possess five kilograms, or 11 pounds of cocaine, with intent to distribute.

His first trial ended in a mistrial in September.