New BBC investigation into Krishna Maharaj case
Posted on May 29, 2012
Krishna Maharaj was sentenced to death in 1987 for the double murder of Derrick and Duane Moo Young in a Florida hotel. The term was commuted to 50 years imprisonment in 2002 after a legal appeal uncovered fresh evidence casting serious doubt about the conviction.
Reporter Tim Samuels, who has previously followed the case, has revealed he is talking to Maharaj’s lawyers about even more new evidence that points to his innocence. Reprieve, a legal organisation who represent death row cases, say on their website:
“Five alibi witnesses all of whom place [Maharaj] more than 30 miles away at the time of the murder, but none of whom were called to testify at his trial. The original trial judge was led away in handcuffs for taking bribes in another case, and the new judge ordered the death penalty to be drawn up even before a verdict of guilty had been given.
Subsequent investigation revealed that the victims had been laundering money in the Caribbean, and that the murders were almost certainly carried out by the Medellín drug cartel.”
Below is an article I wrote for New Nation in 2006.
A MAN CONVICTED of a double-murder many people believe he did not commit is due to make a last ditch appeal.
British citizen Krishna Maharaj clocked up twenty years behind bars last Monday , many of them spent on death row, since the date of his arrest.
Scores of politicians and lawyers believe he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice in the United States.
Maharaj is now gearing up for a last ditch appeal for clemency to Florida governor Jeb Bush, the younger brother of the US President. If his appeal fails he will almost certainly spend the rest of his life in jail.
An increasing number of people are convinced Maharaj, 67, was framed for the killing of big-time money launderers Derrick and Duane Moo Young, who are suspected of being major figures in a global drugs empire.
Maharaj insists he was lured to a Florida hotel for business meeting with another man who failed to turn up.
Maharaj has six witnesses who claim he was 40 miles away at the time the Moo Youngs were gunned down in that same hotel room. They were never called to give evidence at his trial.
Maharaj’s trial was beset by attempts to bribe the judge, poor legal representation, and the non-disclosure of evidence of multi-billion dollar deals involving the Jamaican victims.
Trinidad-born Maharaj was taking the Moo Youngs to court over an unpaid bill but was advised he would win.
His counsel argue Maharaj had no motive to kill the pair but his court dispute made him the best fall-guy available at the time.
The only forensics linking him to the crime were his finger-prints on a coffee mug and newspaper. Maharaj has always admitted being in the Miami hotel room but insists he was set-up.
Lawyers at Reprieve, an organisation representing Maharaj, plan to submit a bid for clemency in a fortnight. Governor Bush can issue a full pardon, conditional pardon, reduce the sentence or reject the appeal altogether.
Bush Jnr does not have a reputation for compassion in law and order matters. He has signed 38 death warrants since 1999 including two for prisoners who later had their convictions overturned.
Maharaj was sentenced to death in 1986 but had his jail term commuted to 50 years imprisonment after three hundred British parliamentarians petitioned a Florida court in 2002.
A BBC documentary last year found that the prosecutions star witness Tino Geddes originally claimed to have been in Fort Lauderdale but later changed his story claiming he saw Maharaj in the hotel at the time of the murders. Gun-running charges against Geddes were dropped.
Neville Butler, the only witness to the shootings, was seen leaving the hotel with blood-stained clothes and a broken watch. Butler was granted immunity from prosecution in return for testifying against Maharaj.
The prosecution failed to tell the original trial that a suitcase belonging to the victims contained papers pointing to the Moo Youngs giving loans of up to US$1.5 billion each to several Caribbean governments, and a transfer of US$5 billion in Yen bonds.
The papers also revealed evidence of a millionaires lifestyle seriously which was seriously at odds with their modest bathroom fittings business and US tax returns declaring a total household income of just US$20,000 a year.
In February 2004 Miami judge William C Turnoff rejected an appeal by Maharaj claiming innocence was not enough to warrant a retrial. He said: ‘Newly discovered evidence which goes only to guilt or innocence is insufficient to warrant relief.’
Maharaj came to Britain penniless in 1960 but built up a fruit import business and became a multi-millionaire. He encountered the Moo Youngs after establishing two newspapers in the Caribbean.