KATHMANDU: Two brothers who had said they were done cooperating with prosecutor after admitting to helping American actor Jussie Smollett stage a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago last year are willing to help in the case again.
According to The Associated Press Attorney Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez said in a statement that Abimbola (Abel) and Olabinjo (Ola) Osundairo changed their minds after a 9mm handgun that was seized during a search of their home last year was located after it went missing.
“Abel and Ola will recommence their cooperation in the Smollett case now that the handgun has been produced by the Special Prosecutor’s Office,” The Associated Press quoted Rodriguez as writing, referring to Special Prosecutor Dan Webb, who is now handling the case. The two, she wrote in a separate letter to Webb, “stand ready to testify at trial”.
The about-face by the brothers came just hours after various media outlets reported that the brothers according to their lawyer, finished cooperating because of the missing gun and their feeling that the police department’s lawyers were treating them like suspects.
One legal expert called that threat hollow from the outset because the brothers had already testified before a grand jury, meaning that if they stood firm prosecutors could simply read that testimony in court.
“What they said is already under oath on paper,” said David Erickson, a former state appellate judge who teaches at Chicago Kent College of Law.
Erickson said if the brothers went into court and refused to testify during trial, there was nothing stopping the judge from holding them in contempt and nothing stopping prosecutors for charging them for their admitted role in what authorities say was a staged attack.
The threat to not cooperate was the latest development in a strange story that has taken a host of unexpected turns since January 2019, when Smollett, a Black and openly gay actor who worked on the TV show Empire, reported to police that two masked men had approached him in downtown Chicago, made racist and homophobic insults, beat him and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing, as per The Associated Press.
The story included Smollett’s contention that his attackers told him he was in “MAGA Country,” a reference to US President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, ‘Make America Great Again’. There was national attention on the case, both when the incident occurred and later when police alleged Smollett staged the attack with the help of the brothers to drum up publicity for his career, writes The Associated Press.