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The BBC's Brian Barron
"His case is supported by almost 300 MP's"
 real 28k

The BBC's Malcolm Brabant
"Lawyers say he was the victim of an outrageous miscarriage of justice"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 8 December, 1999, 19:30 GMT
Murder case Briton seeks retrial
Krishna Maharaj was taken off Death Row in 1997


A former British tycoon convicted of a double murder in Florida has asked the state's Supreme Court for a retrial.

Krishna Maharaj, 60, was sentenced to death 13 years ago, following the murders of two business associates in Miami.

The death sentence was lifted at appeal in 1997, but an attempt to call a retrial failed.

But lawyers for Maharaj told the Tallahassee court on Wednesday that he was the victim of an "outrageous" miscarriage of justice and should either be released, or tried again.

Judge arrested mid-trial

In November 1987, a jury found Maharaj guilty of murdering Duane Moo Young, 53, and his son Derrick, 23, both of whom were alleged to be Jamaican drug dealers.

The former fruit importer was said to have shot the pair in a hotel suite in a business feud over property interests, and sentenced to death.

He denied the killings, saying that the two were victims of Miami's drugs underworld.

And his lawyers said on Wednesday that Maharaj's trial had violated his human rights.

Four days into the trial, the judge had been arrested on bribery charges relating to another case.

But instead of ordering a retrial, the state had proceeded with a replacement judge and the same jurors.

That was unfair, said the lawyers, as the jury might have construed that Maharaj was somehow linked with the judge's arrest.

Three-month wait

One of the team, Clive Stafford Smith, also spent much of the 40-minute hearing trying to convince the court that the trial judge had also tried to solicit a $50,000 bribe from his client.

He faced intense questioning as the judges tried to establish what proof there was to back up this claim.

The seven judges are expected to take about three months to make a decision.

But after the hearing, Maharaj's wife Marita said she was optimistic that there might be a retrial at which he would be able to clear his name.

If the judges do not call a retrial, state prosecutors are expected to demand that the original death sentence be reimposed and Maharaj sent to the electric chair.

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See also:
29 Oct 97 |  Americas
British businessman off death row
02 Dec 99 |  UK
Appeal hope for jailed Briton

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