It should come as no surprise that on Friday (March 28, 2010) the United States magistrate yesterday rejected a bail application for reggae Mark ‘Buju Banton’ Myrie.
The magistrate also denied a request from lawyers representing Buju for him to be moved to a non-maximum security penal institution.
US magistrate Anthony Porcelli said he would not order Buju's release because he believes there is a high risk he could flee to his home country of Jamaica.
The magistrate also said he would not interfere with the operations at the Pinellas County Jail where Buju is currently being held.
Attorney-at-law David Markus had gone to court claiming that Buju had lost 40 pounds because he was denied the vegetarian diet, a requirement due to his persuasion. Also that his mental and physical health had been rapidly deteriorating.
Marcus claimed Buju had been transferred to a maximum security section of the jail and this was hindering his ability to prepare for his trial, which begins in weeks.
However a federal prosecutor told the court that the claim that Buju was being treated inhumanely was a lie.
Instead the Assistant US Attorney General James Preston presented evidence which showed that Banton gained 11 pounds since being in custody thus disputing the 40 pounds weight loss his lawyers previously stated.
The court was told that Buju was 150 pounds when he was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on January 5, and when he was weighed recently his weight was 161 pounds.
Markus challenged those records, asserting Buju's weight when he was booked was just an estimate.
However a jail official said the numbers were supported by records kept by jail medical staff, who weighed Buju several times during his detention.
Markus complained he hadn't seen the records before the hearing.
According to the prison official, Buju never asked the jail chaplain, who handles such requests, if he could be placed on a vegetarian diet.
The official said he reviewed records of Buju's commissary transactions and found purchases of meat and fish, including chicken, tuna and mackerel.
According to the jail official, he has since directed that Buju be given a vegetarian diet. Markus said Buju gave other inmates the meat he bought in the commissary and had filed a diet request with the chaplain.
The prison official also rejected claims that Buju was being housed in a maximum-security section.
He said Buju was being kept in an older part of the jail where the security arrangements were different, but not punitive, because he argued with a prison official who told him not to give his food away.