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American musicians facing criminal charges get permission to perform at Soweto Jazz Festival

Two New Orleans musicians facing federal criminal charges will be allowed to perform at a jazz festival in South Africa in June, a judge ruled on Thursday.

Renowned jazz trumpet player Irvin Mayfield will be allowed out of the country for six days, along with pianist Ronald Markham, Mayfield’s business partner.

Mayfield and Markham were indicted in December. Prosecutors said they used their former positions with the New Orleans Public Library Foundation to enrich themselves. Both pleaded not guilty and have been free on bond, but they were not allowed to leave the country.

Prosecutors had opposed their request for permission to perform at the Soweto International Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, raising the possibility that the two might not return for trial.

Mayfield and Markham appealed to U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey after a magistrate judge sided with prosecutors.

Zainey’s order requires each to post a $100 000 bond before traveling. They also will have to report to the U.S. Consulate upon arrival in Johannesburg and sign waivers allowing their extradition.

The judge wrote that he granted the men’s request after he considered their “exemplary compliance with their pretrial release conditions thus far,” their personal and family ties to the New Orleans community and probation officers’ testimony that the two are not flight risks.

Their trial is currently set for 22 October.

Their indictments followed investigative reports by WWL-TV on Mayfield, who drew praise in the city for his musical artistry and his promotion of the city after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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