Buju Banton charged with assault

REGGAE artiste Buju Banton was on Wednesday offered bail in the sum of $50,000 after he pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault in the night court section of the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court. The police alleged that Banton was among a group of men who barged into a house on Carlisle Avenue in Kingston on June 24 last year and beat six men who they accused of being homosexuals.

On Wednesday, the rastafarian entertainer was ordered to report to the Constant Spring Police Station every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, between the hours of 6:00 am and 8:00 pm as a condition of his bail. The case against Buju Banton will come before the court on September 30. Buju Banton, whose name is Mark Myrie rose to prominence almost 15 years ago with hardcore dancehall lyrics. One of his early hit singles, Boom Bye Bye, drew great criticism from gay rights groups, which claimed the song incited the murder of gay persons.

Buju Banton is one of eight dancehall artistes who have come under pressure from gay rights lobby groups in Europe and the United States for their gay-bashing lyrics. In fact, several of these artistes have had a number of their stage shows cancelled as a result of the pressure. Buju Banton was banned from travelling to the United States for one year after he was found guilty of possession of and cultivation of marijuana in the local courts and ordered to pay a fine of $9,000 or serve 60 days in prison in April last year.

In March this year the travel ban was lifted by the United States Embassy and the singer was given back his visa.