Briton sentenced to death in Florida in appeal

Former British millionaire Krishna Maharaj listens to proceedings during a week-long hearing at Metro-Dade Courthouse in Miami in 1997. Picture: AP

Former British millionaire Krishna Maharaj listens to proceedings during a week-long hearing at Metro-Dade Courthouse in Miami in 1997. Picture: AP

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A BRITON who has been in prison in the United States since being sentenced to death in the late 1980s for a double murder will learn today whether his 28-year-old conviction is to be overturned.

Former self-made millionaire Krishna Maharaj, who turns 76 this month, who was once the second biggest racehorse owner in the UK, was convicted in 1987 of the murders of two men, Derrick and Duane Moo Young, in the Dupont Plaza hotel in central Miami.

He spent 15 years on death row before his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2002.

Miami Judge William Thomas will rule around 2.30pm UK time on Maharaj’s application to overturn his conviction for capital murder.

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

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Clive Stafford Smith, director of UK charity Reprieve, and Miami attorney Ben Kuehne have represented Maharaj pro bono for more than 21 years.

Mr 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.”

Mr Stafford Smith and Mr Kuehne previously secured Maharaj a re-sentencing trial in 2002 when he received a life sentence, but he has no chance of parole until after his 100th birthday.

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