UK Government failing to support innocence hearing for Brit in Florida

December 23, 2016

The British Government is facing questions from a senior conservative MP over its failure to support a bid by UK citizen Kris Maharaj to secure a new hearing which could prove his innocence.

Mr Maharaj, 77, was arrested in Florida three decades ago, and sentenced to death on murder charges – a sentence which was overturned in 2002 after it was revealed that the judge had colluded with the prosecution.

Since then, new evidence of Mr Maharaj’s innocence has come to light – several members of a Colombian drug cartel have admitted that they, not Kris, were responsible for the 1987 murders of Derrick and Duane Moo Young, which took place in Miami.

However, Mr Maharaj needs to secure a new court hearing in order to present this evidence. His lawyer and Reprieve’s Founder, Clive Stafford Smith, has appealed to the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to submit an ‘amicus’ brief in support of such a hearing – but the FCO has so far refused to act, although the deadline for submission is 9 January 2017.

The call for an amicus is also being supported by Sir Peter Bottomley MP, who has written to the FCO pointing out that it has previously submitted similar briefs in the cases of other British people imprisoned abroad. Sir Peter points out that Mr Maharaj’s case “is one of the greatest injustices I have seen,” concluding that “It is not much to ask…that he be allowed the chance to make his case.”

“An amicus brief from [Her Majesty’s Government],” he adds, “Would be entirely appropriate and would mean that the Court would at least pay some attention to Kris’ application for permission.”

Reprieve director and Mr Maharaj’s lawyer Clive Stafford Smith said:

“The British Government’s foot-dragging on Kris’ case is truly appalling.  Time is running out on what could well be Kris’ last chance to prove his innocence, yet the Foreign Office seems uninterested in correcting this monumental injustice.  The Foreign Secretary needs to get a grip and support a new hearing for Kris before it is too late.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 7791 755 415. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064.

2. Further detail on Kris Maharaj’s case is available at the Reprieve website, here