Reprieve counsel Clive Stafford Smith, working with Florida co-counsel Ben Kuehne and Susan Dmitrovsky, today filed a further challenge to Kris Maharaj’s convictions, arguing that innocence must be considered a substantive reason to order his release.
Even after the revelations in Stafford Smith’s recent book Injustice (published in the US in November as The Injustice System), the recent, and on-going, investigation has revealed a slew of additional evidence of Maharaj’s innocence. However, Mr Maharaj, a British citizen, will be 74 years old on January 26 and will not survive much longer in the harsh US prison system.
Kris Maharaj was convicted of the October 16, 1986, murder of Derrick Moo Young and his 23 year old son Duane in Room 1215 of the Dupont Plaza Hotel. Over the years, the pro bono legal assistance provided by Reprieve has uncovered overwhelming evidence of innocence, but the last court to consider the case ruled – consistent with the bizarre state of US habeas law – that Kris’ innocence was not an issue that could lead to his release.
Highlights of the new evidence include:
- admissions by former Miami police and those closely associated with law enforcement that they framed Maharaj and had a deal to help cover up Colombian cartel murders;
- proof that the only other occupied room on the 12th floor on the day of the murders, Room 1214 right across the hall from the murder scene, was occupied by one Jaime Vallejo Mejia, a Colombian then wanted for his involvement in a cartel laundering case involving $40 million in cash; Mejia was deported to his native country where there is further proof of his drug associations;
- evidence that Tino Geddes, the witness who changed from alibi to incrimination, did so because he had been linked for years with the Shower Posse, the main drug cartel in Jamaica, closely associated with the Colombians;
- documents that show how ‘eyewitness’ Neville Butler was himself involved in the murders, failed a lie detector, and has – on a number of other occasions – committed perjury in court to promote his own interests.
All of this comes on top of the six alibi witnesses who prove that Kris Maharaj could not have committed the crime, and overwhelming evidence that the Moo Youngs were themselves involved in drug money laundering – to the tune of $5 billion, a massive figure even today, but all the more extraordinary in 1986.
Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith said: “Kris’ continued incarceration is an injustice of unparalleled proportions. If his British passport means anything at all, it must entitle him to the most vigorous representation by the Government, as well as anyone else who believes in justice. He will languish in prison for another Christmas, his loyal and long-suffering wife Marita allowed a short visit over the holidays. It is long past time for him to come home.”
1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166 / donald.campbell [AT] reprieve.org.uk
2. The full text of the pleading filed today is available here.
3. Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.
Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 15 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penalty around the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’
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