Gay Beating Trial In St. Maarten Delayed

St. MaartenPHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN – The trial of four men accused of attacking two gay American tourists has been postponed so that a victim can return to testify in a St. Maarten court.
In requesting the postponement, prosecutors said Tuesday that finances kept Ryan Smith, 25, from traveling to the Caribbean country in time for the trial. Chief prosecutor Taco Stein told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his office would help pay for Smith’s return for the trial, which is scheduled to resume October 31.
“The government of St. Maarten has also stated its willingness to assist,” Stein said by telephone. “After all, this case was not good promotion for the island.”
Smith and his friend Richard Jefferson — both employees of CBS News in New York — were severely beaten as they left a bar April 6 in St. Maarten, the island’s Dutch side. Smith suffered massive brain damage and was unable to speak properly for months.
Jefferson, 51, whose skull was cracked by a blow from a tire iron, recovered and returned to the island to give authorities his account of the attack, which he called a hate crime. He is not expected to testify in the trial.
The four suspects have been charged with attempted murder and manslaughter. Stein declined to identify them.
At the start of the trial Tuesday, Judge Rick Smid dismissed defense lawyers’ request to release their clients from detention.
“We’re talking here about a case of public violence that had very serious consequences,” Smid said.
The island, a popular Caribbean tourist destination, is shared by France and the Netherlands.
from CNN

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