Prosecutors have dropped all charges against US actor Jussie Smollett for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack.

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Why did prosecutors drop all charges against Jussie Smollett?

The Empire star attended a court hearing in Chicago on Tuesday, where a judge sealed the case. Mr Smollett, 36, pleaded not guilty this month to 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police. The city’s mayor denounced the prosecutors’ decision to drop the charges as a “whitewash of justice”. Mr Smollett told reporters after his court appearance: “I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.

What is the city’s reaction?

Supt Johnson said in a news conference on Tuesday that he felt justice had not been served and “the city is still owed an apology”. “If someone falsely accused me I would never hide behind a brokered deal and secrecy,” he told reporters. “At the end of the day it was Mr Smollett who committed this hoax. Period.”

Did authorities have enough evidence?

Police in Chicago found several pieces of evidence that led them to believe that Smollett orchestrated the attack. Investigators had footage of the men involved in the alleged assault buying a ski mask, sunglasses and other items. They also had a check that Smollett used to pay one of them. But no surveillance cameras captured the incident and one of the men was actually Smollett’s personal trainer, the actor’s attorneys said. If prosecutors saw holes in their case, they had to do the “best they could do in the interest of justice.”
“I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe they looked at the evidence and didn’t feel they could prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

How has the case unfolded?

Mr Smollett said he was attacked in the early hours on 29 January in downtown Chicago outside a sandwich shop by two masked men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him and put a rope round his neck. He claimed they shouted: “This is Maga country”, a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan, and that at least one of the assailants was white. But Chicago police said Mr Smollett had paid two brothers, both of whom are black, $3,500 to stage the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the TV show. His lawyer maintained outside court on Tuesday that the cheque was for nutrition and physical training. Ms Holmes also alleged that brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who apologised for “their involvement in this situation” earlier this month, were Mr Smollett’s attackers. “We already know who attacked him,” the lawyer told reporters. “The two brothers have said that they attacked him.”

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