For Immediate Release
Reprieve's London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8140. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org
Kris Maharaj is Innocent, Witnesses Tell Florida Courtroom
MIAMI - A Miami court yesterday heard several witnesses testify that they believe Kris Maharaj to be innocent of two murders for which he has spent 28 years in a Florida jail.
Former Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent Henry Cuervo supported the proposition that Colombian cartels carried out the 1986 murders of Derrick and Duane Moo Young in a Miami hotel for which Mr Maharaj, now 75, was convicted.
A former cartel pilot, testifying under a false name because of dangers to his life, recounted a meeting he had with notorious drug baron Pablo Escobar two months after the murders; at that meeting, Escobar told him not to steal narcotics money – or he would end up being killed just like ‘Los Chinos’ who were killed in the Miami hotel.
Miami lawyer Brenton Ver Ploeg testified about documents he located when defending the Moo Youngs’ life insurance claim – documents he viewed as strongly indicating their involvement in narcotics and money laundering.
Finally, former Miami police officer Michael Flynn took the stand to recount how another Miami officer told him that the police were going to “hook up” Kris Maharaj – a police euphemism for framing him.
The hearing will resume on Wednesday 12th – after the Veterans' Day Holiday – with Officer Flynn taking the stand to complete his testimony.
Marita Maharaj, Kris’ wife, said: “I am so glad that Kris is finally getting his full day in court. I feel certain that our terrible ordeal is finally coming to a close. It is not that I think he is innocent – I know he is.”
Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve and Kris’ attorney for 21 years, said: “We had a good day today, and have taken a step closer to justice for Kris. It is not over yet, and there is much work still to do, but I am hopeful that we will reunite him with his marvelous wife Marita, who has stood by him for all these 28 long and painful years.”
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Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.