Reprieve +44 (0) 207 553 8160
For immediate release: Fri May 23, 2014
New evidence points to Brit’s innocence after 27 years in prison
A British businessman sentenced to death by a Florida court in 1987 will today submit new evidence ahead of a full evidentiary hearing that could prove his innocence.
Kris Maharaj, now 75 years old, was handed a death sentence three decades ago in Miami for the murders of Derrick and Duane Moo Young, after a seriously flawed trial. Since then, leaked evidence suppressed by the US government has shown the Moo Youngs were laundering up to US$5bn for the Colombian drug cartels. Former cartel operatives recently admitted that the murders were carried out by the Medellín cartel on the orders of drug baron Pablo Escobar.
Last month, Judge William Thomas ordered a full evidentiary hearing in Mr Maharaj’s case, to consider issues of innocence; governmental suppression of favourable evidence; and perjury by prosecution witnesses. In court next Wednesday (May 28), the judge will set a date for the full evidentiary hearing.
Witness statements and other evidence compiled by Mr Maharaj’s legal team appear to support the former cartel members’ claims, which have never before been considered by the courts.
Clive Stafford Smith, Mr Maharaj’s lawyer and the director of legal charity Reprieve, said: “A full consideration of the evidence is long overdue in Kris’s case, and Judge Thomas has shown great courage in ordering a new hearing. This new evidence finally gives Kris a chance to prove his innocence, after 27 years spent in prison for a crime he patently did not commit.”
1. The next hearing in Kris Maharaj’s case will take place at 9am next Wednesday (May 28) at the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, in Miami.
2. The judge’s opinion granting an evidentiary hearing can be read here.
3. For further information, please contact the Reprieve press office: (UK)email@example.com/ +44 207 553 8160 or (US) firstname.lastname@example.org/ +1 (917) 855 8064
The fingerprint evidence was never “run,” and this is not a circumstance unique to millionaire Kris Mahara: the fingerprint evidence was not “run” in indigent Monte Adams Brevard County, Florida prosecution, either, even though there were subsequently two separate Cocoa gas station homicides that remain unsolved, that of Eric Nicoletti and Michael Capponi.
It will likely require court orders to get police chiefs and sheriffs to run fingerprints they don’t want to run. Trying to stir consciences – at least with the Brevard Sheriff’s Office – has proven as effective as kicking a dead horse.
This old blog post contains one of many letters written on Monte’s (and others) behalf that got nowhere:
Monte has been incarcerated for 31 years. It’s likely that the Brevard Sheriff’s Office has discarded Farley Adams discourteously ignored letter – nearly as old as his son’s conviction – humbly requesting that the fingerprints be processed. I’ve kept a copy.
There’s more. To my knowledge, no one has yet helped Threna Farley in her pursuit to have her official statement regarding Monte revised to reflect reality, so that Monte won’t again be rejected for parole on its contrived basis: Threna was never afraid of Monte. When a Florida state employee claims one thing, and a private citizen claims the opposite, the odds are that the citizen is the one telling the truth.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s coddling of officers that refuse to work for a living keeps innocents incarcerated and killers on the streets, and it’s no different than most other state’s highest policing authority. Because our Department of Justice demonstrably doesn’t give a damn about inherent rights violations, it falls to other nations to remind our nation’s top cop that we are party to international rights agreements that don’t tolerate behaviors that result in unfair trials.
Kris Maharaj’s fate shouldn’t be in the hands of Reprieve in 2014; it should have been in the hands of British diplomats in 1987 … helping Kris would have helped Monte, and who knows how many other Americans. Brits pretty much let the U.S. walk all over its citizens: it isn’t representative of an alliance; it’s evidence of subservience, and its effects aren’t limited to Florida frame-ups and malicious prosecutions, its effects are visible worldwide. Great Britain is revoking select citizens’ passports when they travel, making them stateless targets for U.S. drones.
Here is another Reprieve press release that addresses another British drone issue that the British government should be addressing in Reprieve’s stead:
Reprieve +44 (0) 207 553 8160
For immediate release: Fri May 23, 2014
UK government faces legal action over failure to investigate BT drones link
Legal charity Reprieve has threatened legal action against the British government over its failure to investigate the role of UK telecoms giant BT in facilitating covert US drone strikes in Yemen.
BT has earned an estimated $23m from a US government contract to supply key communications infrastructure between RAF Croughton – a US military base in Northamptonshire – and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the secret base from which armed drones reportedly carry out lethal strikes in Yemen. According to the US military, American forces stationed at RAF Croughton provide “global strike operations.”
Legal investigations have begun on behalf of Mohammed al-Qawli, a Yemeni civil servant who lost his brother, a primary school teacher, and cousin, a 20-year-old student, in a drone strike in January 2013. They follow a July 2013 complaint by Reprieve to the UK government watchdog, the National Contact Point (NCP) for the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) Guidelines. That complaint was rejected after the NCP said it had no duty to “conduct research or interrogate” BT.
Mr al-Qawli recently described the moments after he was told about the strike:
“I went to the site of the strike, some 20 minutes away, to find the car still burning and people from the nearby village gathered around it. The smell of burning flesh was overwhelming. We had to go to a nearby village to get water to put the fire out and we had to collect the body parts ourselves. The memory remains etched in my mind and haunts me to this day.”
Lord Livingston, who was Chief Executive of BT at the time the complaint was launched, is now Minister of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), where the NCP sits. Secretary of State for BIS Vince Cable has told Reprieve that Livingston “has overall responsibility” for the NCP.
The US’ secret drone programme is carried out by the CIA and US Joint Special Operations Command in countries with which the US is not at war, and has killed hundreds of civilians in Yemen and Pakistan. After the strike that killed Mr al-Qawli’s relatives, the Yemeni government admitted that both men were innocent civilians.
Kat Craig, Legal Director of Reprieve, said: “Human rights abuses may happen at the hands of governments, but corporations’ fingerprints are too often found at the scene. The OECD guidelines are a recognition of the role corporations play. They should be at their strongest at the intersection of the murky world of business and the secretive and covert drone programme.
“But this case shows that the regulator of these guidelines is toothless and that the guidelines themselves are meaningless. The drone strike that killed an innocent primary school teacher in a country with whom we are not at war may not have been possible but for the assistance of big business. If one of the most recognised British companies has blood on its hands, don’t we deserve to know?”
1. The letter to the NCP threatening legal action can be accessed here.
3. For further information, please contact the Reprieve press office:email@example.com/ +44 207 553 8160