BAHAMAS: Lawmaker apologizes for remarks that caused mistrial in Travolta extortion case
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) _ A Bahamas lawmaker apologized publicly Tuesday for remarks that caused a mistrial in the John Travolta extortion case, but he did not reveal who told him that a defendant had been acquitted before a verdict was announced.
Picewell Forbes said his televised assertion that the still-deliberating jury had cleared one of the two defendants, a former Bahamas senator from his party, was "not true."
Forbes apologized to the judge and the people of this island chain off the Florida coast. He did not take questions and his attorney, Anthony McKinney, said they cannot comment further because the matter is still before the court.
Senior Justice Anita Allen, who presided over the monthlong trial, has said she is considering a contempt of court charge against Forbes. Allen said she had no choice but to dismiss the jury because his remarks on the night of Oct. 21 gave the appearance of a leak from the jury room.
Forbes is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday. McKinney has said Forbes was merely repeating a rumor and there is nothing to suggest there was any contact between the jury and leaders of his client's Progressive Liberal Party.
The former Bahamas senator, Pleasant Bridgewater, is accused of participating in a plot to extort $25 million from the movie star following his son's January death at a family vacation home. Bridgewater, who is also an attorney, allegedly negotiated on behalf of a paramedic, Tarino Lightbourne, who had private information about the death of 16-year-old Jett Travolta.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS: Jury finds US man guilty of killing wife during '99 scuba dive
TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands (AP) _ A jury convicted a Rhode Island man of murder Tuesday in the drowning of his wife during a 1999 scuba-diving trip in the British Virgin Islands.
A judge expects to sentence David Swain on Nov. 4. He faces life in prison and would be sent to a Tortola prison where he has been held for about two years.
Swain did not react when the verdict was read. The parents of the victim, Shelley Tyre, gasped.
The nine jurors had four hours to produce a verdict under local law. Although only a seven-vote majority was required, Supreme Court Justice Indra Hariprashad-Charles urged the seven women and two men to issue a unanimous verdict after giving a three-hour summation of the case, and they did.
Defense attorney Timothy Bradl, of the Boston-based firm Denner Pellegrino, said the verdict would be appealed to the Eastern Caribbean Court.
Prosecutors accused Swain of killing his wife so he could pursue a romance with a Rhode Island chiropractor as well as gain his wife's inheritance estimated at $630,000 and save his now-shuttered dive shop.
Defense attorneys maintained the poorly done autopsy report could not rule out medical reasons for Tyre's death, including the possibility that she suffered a heart attack or stroke during what they say was an accidental drowning.
The drowning was initially ruled an accident, but authorities in the British Virgin Islands charged Swain with murder after a 2006 civil trial in Rhode Island found him responsible for his wife's death.
GUATANAMO: Ex-detainees demand evidence in Britain of their alleged torture be heard in public
LONDON (AP) _ Seven ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees asked Britain's High Court on Tuesday to reject a government request that secret court sessions be used to hear allegations that Britain was complicit in their torture overseas.
The men _ among 11 people suing Britain for alleged complicity in torture _ claim they were abused while in detention centers in Guantanamo, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
They are seeking compensation for their alleged mistreatment, which they say Britain was either aware of or involved in.
Their lawyers said Tuesday that Britain wants their claim for damages to be heard in private, with restricted access to documents the suspects believe may prove U.K. complicity in their mistreatment.
Government lawyers insist that disclosing some, or all, of around 20,000 documents in the case could jeopardize national security or relations with international allies. They want the allegations to be heard in court sessions from which the public would be excluded.
Lawyers acting for the government suggest appointing special advocates to examine the secret material on behalf of the detainees _ a practice used in some specialist immigration and terrorism cases heard at tribunals outside the regular court system.
Britain denies that it has colluded in torture overseas, though police are investigating two cases involving British intelligence officers and their role in the detention of suspects held outside the U.K.
PUERTO RICO: Owner of bar where 7 killed, 20 injured, arrested on drug trafficking charge
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ The owner of a neighborhood bar and grocery where seven people were shot to death was arrested and charged with drug trafficking on Tuesday, authorities said.
The shootout during a party at the crowded bar apparently was caused by a dispute over drugs between Wilfredo Semprit Santana and another person, Police Lt. Rafael Rosa said.
Semprit, who was among 20 people wounded by gunfire in the Oct. 17 attack, was indicted on a federal charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute substances containing heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said.
Police say at least two men barged into Semprit's La Tombola bar in Toa Baja, just west of San Juan, and opened fire on a crowd celebrating the bar's reopening.
Seven people were killed, and those injured included a 9-year girl and a pregnant woman who lost her 8-month-old fetus. Four people remain hospitalized, said Toa Baja Mayor Anibal Vega Borges.
Police are looking for a man they believe is one of the gunmen, although he has not been charged, Rosa said. Puerto Rico's justice secretary recently excused himself from the investigation, saying he had represented the man in an unrelated case when he worked as a defense attorney.
Semprit was released from jail six months ago on probation after serving several years on charges of attempted murder, robbery and kidnapping stemming from a 1990s case tied to drug trafficking, said Rosa, who is investigating the shootings.
Defense attorney Joannie Plaza Martinez said Semprit will appear in court Nov. 9. She declined further comment.
PUERTO RICO: Heat-fatigued cows producing less milk; officials seek Florida imports
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ The heat seems to be getting to the cows on this U.S. Caribbean territory.
For the first time in a decade, officials are importing fresh milk from the United States because high temperatures have stressed the island's cows and production has dropped, agriculture secretary Javier Rivera said Tuesday.
About 1 million liters (260,000 gallons) of milk have been shipped from Florida since early October, said Rivera, who assured consumers that prices have remained the same.
Puerto Rico has been experiencing higher temperatures than normal even as winter approaches, but Rivera said he expects cooler days to come.
Part of the problem also lies with farmers who have not rotated cows _ allowing a certain portion to rest _ to maintain optimum production, he said.
Luis Cordero, spokesman for the farmers' association milk sector, said they began monitoring the situation in August and noted a significant output drop in October.
Farmers produced more than 12 million liters (3.1 million gallons) of milk every two weeks in May, but were down to 9.5 million liters (2.5 million gallons) in October.
Local demand averages some 10 million liters (2.6 million gallons), according to industry figures.
JAMAICA: Police put desk officers on street patrols in response to violent crime spike
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ Jamaica is putting more police on the streets in response to a spike in violent crime.
Police spokesman Karl Angell says 300 officers in administrative positions have been assigned to beat patrols.
Angell said Tuesday the patrols will focus mainly on problem spots in the capital, Kingston, and the rural parishes of Clarendon and St. James. He says the transfers started Friday.
Twenty-seven people were killed last week in the Caribbean nation, which has one of the world's highest murder rates.
More than 1,200 homicides were reported in Jamaica through September, on par with last year when a total of slightly more than 1,600 people were killed.
GRENADA: Judge appoints liquidator for newspaper that lost libel case to former prime minister
ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada (AP) _ A judge in Grenada on Tuesday appointed a liquidator for a weekly newspaper that lost a libel case to a former prime minister of the Caribbean island.
Justice Claire Henry said she issued the order because the Grenada Today newspaper and former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell failed to agree on an arrangement on paying damages. A former accountant general was named to oversee sale of the paper's assets to compensate Mitchell.
The court last week ordered the newspaper to pay $71,000 in libel damages. Mitchell had sued over a 2001 letter to the editor that called him corrupt and incompetent.
Mitchell held power for 13 years before losing the 2008 general elections.
The newspaper was established in 1990 and employs nine people. Its demise would leave Grenada with four weekly papers.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Police detain Netherlands man wanted on sexual exploitation charges
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) _ Police in the Dominican Republic have arrested a Netherlands man who is wanted in his native country on charges of drug trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors.
A National Drug Control Agency news release says Anne Krottje left Holland in 2007 and identified himself as a merchant in the Caribbean nation.
He was arrested Monday in the town of La Vega and he is expected to be extradited to Amsterdam this week.
The release says Krottje has previous convictions for trafficking and sexual abuse of children and is wanted for crimes allegedly committed following his release from prison.
US VIRGIN ISLANDS: Pro basketball player leans toward putting off surgery for torn ligament in wrist
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) _ Charlotte Bobcats' shooting guard Raja Bell said Tuesday he is hopeful he'll be able to play this season with a torn ligament in his left wrist and put off surgery that would sideline him for up to four months.
The Bobcats likely need the U.S. Virgin Islands player if they want a realistic shot at the NBA playoffs.
Bell was injured when his wrist bent awkwardly as he tried to grab a loose ball in an exhibition game on Oct. 18. The player from the U.S. Virgin Islands sat out the final two preseason games after tests revealed the torn ligament. Bell got a second opinion from a Chicago hand specialist who told him if he can withstand the pain, he can play.
Bell will sit out Wednesday's season opener in Boston.
If his wrist doesn't improve enough in a week or so, Bell said he could undergo exploratory arthroscopic surgery to make sure the corrective surgery is needed. The arthroscopic surgery would keep him out for four to six weeks. Surgery to repair the ligament would sideline him for three to four months.
JAMAICA: Olympic bobsled driver Todd Hays offers his help to Jamaican program
By The Associated Press
U.S. bobsled star Todd Hays has agreed to lend some equipment to the cash-strapped Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation for the Vancouver Olympics.
Jamaican officials said on Tuesday the equipment is expected to arrive in Whistler, British Columbia _ where international teams are currently training on the Olympic track _ in the coming days.
It's unclear if Hays is sending one or two sleds; he indicated on Monday that he agreed to lend one, and the Jamaican federation said on Tuesday it would soon be obtaining two. Either way, Jamaican federation official Stephen Samuels said the team was grateful for the help.
The Jamaican bobsled team first earned notoriety more than two decades ago, at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. The island nation has sent several teams to the Winter Games since, although funding has long been problematic.
Jamaica's bobsled driver, Hannukkah Wallace, and pusher Marvin Dixon were in Lake Placid, New York for training this month, before moving their operation to Whistler. The Jamaican four-man team has not started formal training yet this season.
Until now, Wallace has been driving rented sleds.
That's where Hays, a silver medalist at the 2002 Salt Lake Games, comes in.
He's never formally worked with Wallace, but the Jamaican driver has shown some potential already, with a handful of strong showings at America's Cup races _ one step below the World Cup series.
BAHAMAS: Lawmaker apologizes for remarks that caused mistrial in Travolta extortion case