Ruling due today for Briton Kris Maharaj jailed in Florida

January 9, 2015

Image of Kris Maharaj

Miami Judge William Thomas will rule today – Friday, January 9th – on the case of Kris Maharaj, who is seeking to overturn his 28-year old conviction for capital murder. The ruling is expected at around 10am local time.

Mr Maharaj, a British citizen, was convicted and sentenced to death for the October 16, 1986, double homicide of Derrick and Duane Moo Young, in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in downtown Miami. 76 years old this month, Mr Maharaj has always insisted on his innocence.

In November 2014, Judge Thomas presided over a four-day evidentiary hearing that revealed fresh evidence that the Moo Youngs were laundering money for notorious Medellin Cartel boss Pablo Escobar, and that their murders were committed by Colombian hitmen because the Moo Youngs had lost Escobar’s money.

Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith and Miami attorney Ben Kuehne have represented Mr Maharaj pro bono for more than 21 years, previously securing him a resentencing trial in 2002 when he received a life sentence.

Mr Maharaj has asked Judge Thomas to determine simply that he is innocent, but – bizarrely, though consistent with many states – Florida has not, to date, recognized a claim of innocence. Alternatively, Judge Thomas could vacate his convictions and grant a new trial.

Clive Stafford Smith said: “It is difficult to see how anyone can justify upholding Kris’ conviction. Along with his long-suffering wife Marita, Kris is confident but obviously very nervous. If the judge delivers justice, I just hope that the prosecution does not try to keep him in prison while they take a fruitless appeal. We will be ready for a retrial in a very short time.”