published: 29 March 2017
The Foreign Secretary has refused to support the last appeal of a 78-year-old Briton, who has spent three decades in a US prison for a crime which his lawyers say he did not commit.
British businessman Kris Maharaj was arrested in Florida in 1986 and sentenced to death for murder, despite compelling evidence of his innocence. Since Mr Maharaj’s conviction, human rights organisation Reprieve has established – through six people affiliated with a Colombian drug cartel – that the cartels committed the crime.
Mr Maharaj has filed a final appeal against his original conviction in the US federal courts, asking the court to consider the new evidence of his innocence. Clive Stafford Smith, founder of Reprieve and Mr Maharaj’s lawyer, has asked Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to submit an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief from the British Government.
However, in a recent letter to Reprieve, Mr Johnson confirmed that the Government would not submit such a briefing. His letter said that the Government’s position “still stands” – referring to previous correspondence in which ministers said it would not be “appropriate” to support Mr Maharaj’s case.