US Judge declares mistrial in Buju Banton cocaine case

Buju Banton Banton testified he talked about drugs only in order to impress the informant

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A US judge has declared a mistrial for reggae star Buju Banton, accused last year of conspiring to buy cocaine from an undercover police officer.

Jurors in the US state of Florida were unable to reach a verdict.

The four-time Grammy nominee may be re-tried in December. A defence lawyer asked he be freed on a bond.

Banton, a Jamaican national, maintained he had been entrapped by a paid police informant whom he believed had music industry connections.

During the four-day trial which ended last week, prosecutors played audio recordings in which Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, and the informant discussed drugs, ideas for shipping drugs, and dollar amounts. Prosecutors said the tapes showed Banton wanted to finance drug deals.

The 37-year-old performer testified he only talked about drugs with the informant in order to impress him. Questioned by Banton's lawyer, the informant, Alexander Johnson, acknowledged Banton had never given him money.

"The government tried to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and they did not do it," Banton lawyer David Markus told the Associated Press news agency.

Banton has been jailed since 10 December.

In 2004, Banton was banned from performing at a gig in Manchester after protests about his allegedly homophobic lyrics, which are often used in the genre of dancehall music.

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