The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Reprieve press office: (UK) +44 207 553 8160 or (US) / +1 (917) 855 8064

New Evidence Points to Brit's Innocence After 27 Years in Prison


A British businessman sentenced to death by a Florida court in 1987 will today submit new evidence ahead of a full evidentiary hearing that could prove his innocence.

Kris Maharaj, now 75 years old, was handed a death sentence three decades ago in Miami for the murders of Derrick and Duane Moo Young, after a seriously flawed trial. Since then, leaked evidence suppressed by the US government has shown the Moo Youngs were laundering up to US$5bn for the Colombian drug cartels. Former cartel operatives recently admitted that the murders were carried out by the Medellin cartel on the orders of drug baron Pablo Escobar.

Last month, Judge William Thomas ordered a full evidentiary hearing in Mr Maharaj's case, to consider issues of innocence; governmental suppression of favourable evidence; and perjury by prosecution witnesses. In court next Wednesday (May 28), the judge will set a date for the full evidentiary hearing.

Witness statements and other evidence compiled by Mr Maharaj's legal team appear to support the former cartel members' claims, which have never before been considered by the courts.

Clive Stafford Smith, Mr Maharaj's lawyer and the director of legal charity Reprieve, said: "A full consideration of the evidence is long overdue in Kris's case, and Judge Thomas has shown great courage in ordering a new hearing. This new evidence finally gives Kris a chance to prove his innocence, after 27 years spent in prison for a crime he patently did not commit."

Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantanamo Bay.