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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 03:55 GMT
Death Row Briton spared execution
Krishna Maharaj
Krishna Maharaj was found guilty of two murders
Former millionaire Krishna Maharaj, the Briton who has spent 15 years on death row in the United States, will not be executed.

A jury of 12 in Florida voted by 11 to one to reduce his death sentence to life imprisonment.

Maharaj was placed on death row after being convicted of killing two men in a Miami hotel room in 1986.

Irregularities in his original trial led to the re-sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

His defence team now hope to appeal further to the Florida Supreme Court for a full retrial for the 63-year-old.

What happened today doesn't make any difference to someone who is innocent

Clive Stafford-Smith

Afterwards Maharaj said: "I'm very happy today with the verdict, it causes us to go back to Federal Court.

"We filed in Federal Court last year but the state delayed - but we're there now."

Maharaj, a former banana importer, had been sentenced to death in Florida's electric chair for the shooting of Duane Moo Young and to life in prison for the death of Duane's father Derrick.

UK support

His defence lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith said Maharaj will not be eligible for parole for more than 50 years.

However the Londoner has always stated his innocence and his campaign to be released has already been supported by up to 300 politicians in the UK.

"What happened today doesn't make any difference to someone who is innocent," Mr Stafford-Smith said.

"He is very glad to have this behind him."

In pronouncing sentence, Florida Judge Jerald Bagley said he had no reason to override the jury's recommendation.

The BBC's Fergal Parkinson
"The jury have unanimously rejected the original death sentence"

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See also:

18 Mar 02 | England
Fresh hope for death row Briton
29 Nov 01 | England
Petition to save death row Briton
17 Oct 01 | England
Play honours death row Briton
25 Jan 01 | Americas
Retrial hopes for death row Briton
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