AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd pleads not guilty

AC/DC's drummer Phil Rudd denied charges of threatening to kill and possessing drugs

AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd
AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd

The drummer of rock band AC/DC has pleaded not guilty to charges of threatening to kill and possession of drugs.

Phil Rudd was excused from appearing in New Zealand's Tauranga District Court, with his lawyer entering his plea.

The 60-year-old Australian-born musician was originally charged with attempting to procure the murder of two men.

That charge was dropped because of a lack of evidence.

In an earlier ruling, the names of the alleged murder targets and that of the alleged hit-man were suppressed.

Crown prosecutor Greg Hollister-Jones on Tuesday applied for witness names and any statements they made to be suppressed, according to New Zealand media outlet

The court agreed but ruled that because of strong public interest in the case, details of the charges and a summary of facts should be released by the Crown.

Mr Rudd remains on bail and his case will be called again in February.

The drummer was kicked out of AC/DC in 1983 and rejoined in 1994.

He did not appear in a new photo of band members released in October to promote their upcoming album Rock Or Bust, and was reportedly absent from the filming of a new music video, prompting online speculation about whether he was still in the band.