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Briton fails in US clemency plea

Krishna Maharaj
Krishna Maharaj has always denied killing a business associate and his son

A British man convicted of a double murder in the US will remain in prison for life after his mercy plea failed.

Krishna Maharaj, 68, from London, has always denied killing Derrick Moo-Young and son Duane in a Miami hotel in 1986.

Florida governor Charlie Crist and the state clemency board denied the former millionaire businessman his last chance of freedom by refusing clemency.

Maharaj's case has been supported by the British government and several high-profile political figures.

Tearful plea

Maharaj, who was once the second biggest racehorse owner in the UK, spent 15 years on Florida's Death Row before his sentence was commuted to life in 2002.

Five alibi witnesses have come forward to say he was 30 miles away at the time of the murders.

A lengthy investigation by the Foreign Office found prima facie evidence of a miscarriage of justice.

Maharaj was not present at Thursday's hearing. But his clemency plea was rejected after the family of Derrick and Duane Moo-Young pleaded tearfully with the panel to deny his request.

The board also heard from prosecutors that Maharaj had a fair trial and a series of appeals hearings and other investigations that had all come to the same conclusion.

We are disappointed but we respect the decision of the clemency board
Foreign Office
"There's overwhelming evidence which shows that Mr Maharaj committed these horrendous murders," said Penny Brill, an assistant state attorney in Miami-Dade County.

"There's no injustice to right."

Governor Crist said later that the decision to deny Maharaj clemency was not difficult.

"There were a lot of high profile people from England that apparently... have taken an interest in that case.

"I don't think that should be an influencing factor, and it wasn't today," he said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are disappointed but we respect the decision of the clemency board.

"The British consulate in Orlando will continue to offer him consular support.

"The British government put in the clemency plea, but it is up to his legal team what happens next."

Maharaj's supporters have included Conservative MP Peter Bottomley and former UK attorney general Sir Nicholas Lyell.


SEE ALSO
Fresh hope for death row Briton
18 Mar 02 |  England

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