Krishna Maharaj

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Krishna Maharaj
Krishna Maharaj.jpg
Prison mug shot of Maharaj
Born (1939-01-26) 26 January 1939 (age 78)
Diamond Village, San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago
Occupation Businessman
Criminal penalty Life imprisonment
Criminal status Incarcerated at South Florida Reception Center
Spouse(s) Marita Maharaj
Parent(s) Nanan Maharaj and Dolly Nanan Maharaj
Relatives Ramesh Maharaj (brother)
Conviction(s) First degree murder, kidnapping[1]

Krishna Maharaj (born 26 January 1939) is a Trinidad-born businessman and In 1987 he was convicted by a Florida court for the double murders of Chinese Jamaican businessmen Derrick Moo Young and Duane Young, and was sentenced to death. Maharaj has always denied committing the murders, and according to the human rights organisation Reprieve, the case of Krishna Maharaj is "an epic miscarriage of justice".[2]


Maharaj is the brother of Ramesh Maharaj, former Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago. He is also the brother of Indra Rambachan (née Maharaj) who is the wife of National Award winner lawyer Roopnarine Rambachan.

Charge and detainment[edit]

According to the prosecution, Maharaj arranged a false meeting with Derrick Moo Young in the DuPont Plaza Hotel, in order to demand that Moo Young repay money that he had fraudulently taken from Maharaj's relatives in Trinidad. Derrick Moo Young turned up at room 1215 together with his son Duane. Once inside the room, Maharaj is said to have appeared with a gun from behind a door. An argument resulted, and the father, Derrick Moo Young, was shot to death by Maharaj. The prosecution stated that the son, Duane, then was taken upstairs in the suite and shot by Maharaj.

In 1997, a Florida court overturned the death sentence.[3] In 2001, almost 300 British politicians, church leaders and judges wrote a letter to the then Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, asking for a retrial. The letter stated that there were 'astonishing flaws' in the case against Maharaj. Among those signing the letter were Lord Goldsmith, then Attorney General for England and Wales and Northern Ireland, Lynda Clark, then Advocate General for Scotland, Charles Kennedy, then Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ken Livingstone, then Mayor of London, and Nicholas Lyell, former Attorney General for England and Wales and Northern Ireland.

The governor said no to a retrial, but instead Maharaj was re-sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002.[3]

In 2006, the British human rights organisation Reprieve made an appeal to Governor Jeb Bush for clemency on Maharaj's behalf, pointing out that the jury heard from none of Maharaj's alibi witnesses, who would have put him 25 miles away at the time of the murder; that the prosecution’s star witness changed his story several times; and that evidence has emerged since the trial that the murder victims were involved in money laundering and had links to drug traffickers, and that there are a number of alternative suspects with strong motives which were not considered at the time.[3] The appeal was denied.

In 2008, Reprieve made a second appeal for clemency to the then Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, but this appeal was also denied.[2]

On 24 April 2014, judge William Thomas, from the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, Miami, approved that he would allow Maharaj's lawyer to present witnesses during an evidentiary hearing.[4][5]

14 November 2014: Krishna Maharaj could be freed after 28 years in prison following his conviction for the 1986 killings of business associates Derrick and Duane Moo Young in a Miami hotel room. Henry Cuervo, a former US Drug Enforcement Administration Agent, told a court on Thursday that ex-hitman Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez had confessed to him that Escobar arranged the hit on the Moo Youngs. In the phone call, Cuervo said that Velásquez wanted to clear his conscience and had asked Cuervo to testify on his behalf. He also submitted an affidavit from Velásquez — a cartel assassin known as "Popeye" who was recently released from prison in Colombia, where he is reviled as one of the country's most infamous killers.

On 4 April 2017 it was reported that the now 78-year-old Krishna Maharaj has been granted a new hearing in front of a federal judge. The 11th US circuit Court of Appeals has granted the hearing based on recently discovered evidence which apparently points to the involvement of Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel in the killings of which Maharaj is convicted. The court said that the additional witnesses had presented "compelling" accounts that "independently corroborate one another’s" and that "All five individuals’ stories reflect that the Moo Youngs were killed by the cartel.” [6]


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