Jailed Briton seeks to overturn Florida murder conviction
By David Adams
MIAMI (Reuters) - Lawyers for a British man serving two life sentences in Florida for a 1986 double homicide filed an appeal on Thursday seeking to have the conviction overturned based on an affidavit alleging that Miami police officers framed an innocent man.
Krishna Maharaj, 73, was convicted in 1987 for the murder of Derrick and Duane Moo Young, a Jamaican-American father and son who were shot dead, one of them execution-style, in October 1986 in a downtown Miami hotel suite.
The 90-page appeal purports to cite new evidence including a sworn affidavit from an unnamed witness "who has come forward after many years" alleging that Maharaj was framed by police officers. Maharaj's legal team said it was withholding the identity and other information about the witness out of concern for the safety of the source.
"We have developed very solid proof that Colombian drug dealers were behind these murders and Kris was framed by Miami police," said Maharaj's pro-bono attorney, Clive Stafford Smith, an Anglo-American lawyer, who heads a London-based human rights group, Reprieve, that fights for prisoner rights.
The appeal did not provide any evidence for how and why the Miami police executed the alleged scheme to frame Maharaj. It also did not provide the basis for the concerns about the safety of the witness.
The Miami Police Department had not seen a copy of the appeal and would not comment until its legal office had a chance to study it, said spokeswoman Kenia Reyes.
Stafford Smith, 53, recently published a book about the case titled 'The Injustice System,' describing an 18-year personal crusade to free Maharaj, a wealthy businessman before his arrest who made a fortune in the food importing business in Britain and owned a string of racehorses and Rolls Royces.
The book carries an endorsement by best-selling crime writer John Grisham who called the Maharaj case a "spectacular example of a bogus conviction." Continued...