Sunday, October 4, 2009

Detained Tourists Change Plea to Guilty in Antigua

The prosecutor and defense attorney reached a plea agreement Saturday in the trial of six American tourists detained in Antigua after they fought with police officers who were trying to settle a dispute between the tourists, who had been aboard Carnival Victory, and a taxi driver. They have been detained on the island since the September 4 incident, and both sides had already presented their cases in the month-long trial.

The agreement has five of the six New Yorkers pleading guilty, and the charges against the sixth were dropped. The other five Americans in the taxi were not involved in the brawl and not charged.

The plea bargain is expected to carry a fine but no jail time. Sentencing is scheduled for Monday.

The dispute erupted when the Americans were ashore during a call by Carnival Victory. Eleven had hired a taxi and testified they thought they had negotiated a round trip fare of $50 for the taxi. The driver said the fare was each way, and when the tourists didn't want to pay the other $50, he took them to the police station. The six American's charged (four of them women) claimed they didn't know who the police officers were because most were in plain clothes and claimed they thought they were fighting for their lives. The most serious injury sustained was a bite inflicted on one police officer that needed stitches. The charges were all centered around the resisting of arrest.

According to the AP, the six have been staying with local residents on the island since they were released on bail early last month. Despite what families of the six charge about Antiguans delaying the trial, local court officials have said they delayed at least a dozen cases to expedite the Americans' case.

Update Oct 5, 7am
The Antigua Sun has details of the two sides reaching the agreement. Sentencing will be on Monday.