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Prosecutors have dropped a charge of trying to hire a hit man that had been filed against AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd, his lawyer said Friday, and the rock 'n' roll legend is considering "any possible remedies" to restore his reputation.
Prosecutors in the Tauranga district "formed the view that there was insufficient evidence to justify that charge," Paul Mabey, Rudd's New Zealand-based lawyer, said in a statement. The prosecutor's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but The Associated Press reported that a spokeswoman for the office confirmed that the charge had been dropped.
Rudd was charged Thursday with attempting to procure murder, threatening to kill, possession of cannabis and possession of methamphetamine. The charge of attempting to procure murder — punishable by up to 10 years in prison — is the one that was dropped, Mabey said. The other charges, including the count of threatening to kill, remain in effect, Mabey said.
Details of the case against Rudd haven't been publicly released, with the identities of the alleged hit man and the alleged victims protected by court order. Mabey said Rudd's identity also should have been protected, and he complained that "the damage to Mr. Rudd is incalculable."
"Mr. Rudd has suffered unnecessary and extreme damaging publicity as a result of widespread and sensational reporting of a very serious allegation, which on any basis was never justified," Mabey said. "Mr. Rudd is considering any possible remedies he may have."
Rudd's arrest and his recent absence from publicity materials for AC/DC had raised questions about the band's scheduled world tour beginning early next year. In a brief statement, the band said Thursday: "We've only become aware of Phil's arrest as the news was breaking. We have no further comment. Phil's absence will not affect the release of our new album Rock or Bust and upcoming tour next year."
— M. Alex Johnson