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. Martin court. In requesting the postponement,
prosecutors said Tuesday that finances kept Ryan
Smith, 26, from traveling to the Caribbean country in
time for the trial.
Chief prosecutor Taco Stein told the Associated
Press in Philipsburg 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. Martin has also stated its willingness to assist," Stein
said. "After all, this case was not good promotion for
Smith and Richard Jefferson, both employees of
CBS News in New York, were severely beaten as they
left a bar with friends April 6; the bar is located on
the Dutch side of the island. Smith suffered brain damage
and was unable to speak properly for months.
Smith said he was frustrated local authorities
had not expressed more interest in the case, and he
was eager to testify. "This is setting out to kill
people based on who they are, and it's a very scary
thing," he said by telephone from New York. "We care about
this case, but we also are very much concerned about
what's happening in that area of the world for gays
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. He is
not expected to testify in the trial.
The four suspects have been charged with
attempted murder and manslaughter. Michel Javois,
nicknamed "Duracell," is accused of wielding the tire
iron and leading other alleged attackers Glen Roy
Cockly, Micheline Delaney, and Allan Daniel.
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.