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Trial of men accused of beating gay American tourists postponed in St. Maarten

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten -- (AP) -- 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, pictured after the attack, 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 Oct. 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.


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