Miami, Florida (Reprieve) – A British man who has spent the past 30 years in a Florida prison for a murder he did not commit has appealed a recent decision to uphold his conviction.
In legal documents filed this week, British businessman Krishna ‘Kris’ Maharaj, 76, requests a fresh hearing into his wrongful conviction in 1986 for the murders of Derrick and Duane Moo Young in the Dupont Plaza Hotel, in downtown Miami. Mr Maharaj has always maintained his innocence, and at an evidentiary hearing on January 9th this year, substantial evidence was presented to the court that the murders were in fact committed by Colombian drug cartels. However, Miami Judge William Thomas denied a new trial to Mr Maharaj, and refused to consider most of the evidence that the cartels were responsible.
Mr Maharaj was initially sentenced to death, but this was later commuted to a life sentence. This week’s appeal presents his last chance to prove his innocence. Speaking in a documentary broadcast last night on ITV in Britain, Mr Maharaj said: “I want to make sure no other British citizen has to go through what I’ve been through.”
Commenting, Clive Stafford Smith, Mr Maharaj’s lawyer and director of the human rights organization Reprieve, said:
“Surely the appeals court will reverse the decision. After all, four people associated with the Colombian cartels said they did the murders. What more does one need to justify a new trial for Kris?”
This report was prepared by Reprieve.
Reprieve is a small organisation of courageous and committed human rights defenders. Founded in 1999 by British human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, we provide free legal and investigative support to some of the world’s most vulnerable people: British, European and other nationals facing execution, and those victimised by states’ abusive counter-terror policies – rendition, torture, extrajudicial imprisonment and extrajudicial killing.