Against The Odds – Conviction Pushed Isat Buchanan to Pursue Law Degree

There were hugs and kisses all around as Isat Buchanan posed for pictures with a small group of family and friends on Tuesday on the steps of the Supreme Court.

But the subdued celebration belied the improbable odds Buchanan defied to become a full-fledged attorney, authorised to practise in the courts across Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Twenty-one years ago, Buchanan was preparing to travel overseas when he said a neighbour asked him to deliver some cash to someone in the United States (US).

“I was stopped at the [Norman Manley International] airport. They confiscated the packages and later said that it was drugs,” he recounted yesterday of his arrest in 1996.

Buchanan said that he appeared before then Resident Magistrate Martin Gayle, who offered him bail and indicated that he would recuse himself from the case because of the “unfortunate” circumstances.

He was eventually convicted and paid a fine of approximately $1 million, but that was just the beginning of his legal dilemma.

In 1999, Buchanan said he was on a flight to Florida, in the United States, when a quantity of drugs was found in the possession of another passenger. He said that the passenger directed authorities to him, saying that he was the person responsible.

“When they told that to the Feds (American federal authorities), they actually arrested me and they found me guilty by myself,” he acknowledged.

Buchanan was given a 10-year prison sentence as according to him, authorities in the US formed the view that the incident was a continuing act from his drug case in Jamaica and that he had got off easy.

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