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Jamaica: Bloggers React to Banton Verdict

Despite bloggers’ impassioned calls to “set the captive free”, the jury in the Buju Banton drug trial yesterday returned a guilty verdict on three of the four charges against him. The recent Grammy winner could be facing a sentence of as much as fifteen years behind bars. For many bloggers, the long-awaited verdict is an uncomfortable case of life imitating art – the critically acclaimed Before the Dawn, which won Banton the Grammy award for Best Reggae Album, includes “a song in which Banton proclaims he is wrongly convicted though God knows he is innocent.”

Still, the verdict left Jamaica Salt “kind of surprised”:

I thought things may have gone the other way after the last trial, but the audio and video evidence could not be overcome.

Girl With a Purpose adds:

It is said that he could get a minimum of 5 years for the firearm possession charge to a maximum of 40 years for all three charges.

Tallawah, meanwhile, was monitoring Twitter and re-posts the reactions of “several members of the Jamaican music industry”. Twitter (under the hashtags #bujubanton, #buju and #jamaica) was also the platform on which ordinary Tweeple and fans of Buju's music posted their post-verdict thoughts, including several tweets to “free Buju Banton”:

@kingharvest99: Buju Banton convicted in cocaine distribution case

@blazon11: Damn I am still in shock about the news about the voice of Jamaica Mr Buju Banton

@imDJB: After hearing that news about Buju Banton its only right that i play one of his songs

@tonya1908: Prayers for Buju Banton.

Unsurprisingly, speculation over a gay conspiracy longing for retribution over Banton's now infamous anti-gay song Boom Bye Bye found its way into the commentary, but the most candid reactions came from Jamaicans themselves. @JamaicaGleaner posted this series of tweets:

Buju verdict goes viral

#Online response to #Buju Banton verdict #Jamaica

Disbelief in downtown

Supporters stunned

Two of blogger @anniepaul‘s comments got retweeted:

Proof that prayer doesn't work: Buju found guilty…

National depression. #Jamaica #Buju

…to which @Selectajerry responded:
International depression #reggae @anniepaul RT National depression. #Jamaica #Buju

A date for sentencing is still to be announced.

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