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Briton in Florida Prison Trying to Overturn his Murder Conviction
On Thursday, lawyers for a UK citizen serving time in prison in Florida for a 1986 double murder filed a 90-page appeal seeking to have his conviction overturned. Their appeal was supported by an affidavit that claimed Miami police officers had framed the convict who was innocent.
The Briton, Krishna Maharaj, 73, was convicted in 1987 for the murders of Derrick and Duane Moo Young, father and son. They were killed in a Miami hotel suite in 1986.
The lawyers are keeping concealed the identity of a witness, who has come forward after long years, out of concerns for his safety. The sworn affidavit by the unnamed witness claims that Maharaj was framed by Miami police officers. The lawyers allege that Colombian drug dealers were behind the murders, and Kris was a fall guy.
Clive Stafford Smith, the pro-bono lawyer of Maharaj has recently published a book on the case titled “The Injustice System,” which describes his personal attempts to free Maharaj, who was a wealthy businessman before his arrest and had a thriving food import business. Crime writer John Grisham called the Maharaj case a “spectacular example of bogus conviction,” in an endorsement of the book.
Both Maharaj and the Moo Youngs were former neighbors, both hailed originally from the Caribbean – while Maharaj came from an elite Tirinidad-Indian family, the Moo Youngs were of Chinese descent, settled in Jamaica.
Rivalry arose between the families after their partnership ended with Maharaj accusing Derrick Moo Young of defrauding him of $400,000, back in the 80s. Prosecutors cited the facts as motive in the trial of Maharaj. Maharaj’s fingerprints were also found in the room where the murders occurred.
However, Maharaj submitted that he had been lured to the room for framing him, and that he had left the room before the Young’s had arrived. Though there were alibi witnesses claiming that at the time of the murders, Maharaj was having lunch with business associates in a place about 25 miles away from the incident, one of the witnesses changed his tune during the trial and said the alibis were fiction.
Maharaj went to prison and spent time on the death row before having his sentence commuted to life in prison in 1997.
The affidavit submitted by the pro bono lawyers for Maharaj mentions that a Miami police officer, who committed suicide after retiring from the force, had revealed to the witness that Maharaj had been framed.