Monday, November 26, 2007

Another Christmas in jail

BY ANDRE BAGOO Monday, November 26 2007

FLORIDA authorities are conducting an investigation to determine whether or not Krishna Maharaj, the brother of former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, should be granted clemency after being convicted on a murder charge and serving 20 years in prison.

Paul Lomas, Maharaj’s British lawyer, last week told Newsday that the ongoing Florida Parole Board investigation is a normal part of the clemency procedure.

At the end of the investigation a report will be drawn up and a hearing date will be set to deal with the full issue of whether or not Maharaj, who has been in prison for 20 years, will be set free.

But despite hopes that the Board would have completed its investigation for the hearing in time for either Christmas or January of next year, Lomas said it is likely that the hearing will take place sometime in March or April instead.

The pending investigation means that Maharaj, 67, will spend yet another Christmas in prison. But according to Lomas, Maharaj remains in good spirits.

“Kris is...encouraged by the support he has had,” Lomas said.

Maharaj, a British citizen and former millionaire racehorse owner, was tried in October 1987, for the October 16, 1986 murders of Jamaican Derrick Moo Young and his 23-year-old son Duane at a Miami hotel room. A jury in Miami found him guilty, and recommended the death penalty by a slender majority of 7-5. He was sent to deathrow on December 1, 1987.

His death sentence was eventually overturned after he spent 15 years on deathrow. A judge then sentenced him to another 25 years to life in prison, bringing his total sentence to 53 years to life, including a mandatory three years for using a firearm.

Lawyers in the matter have maintained that there were gross irregularities with his original trial.

The clemency application will be Maharaj’s last chance to escape prison after already serving 20 years and exhausting all his possible appeals.

Earlier this year, Krishna was granted a waiver hearing on his clemency application. The prosecution presented its opposition to clemency in May. Krishna’s defence in turn presented his case for clemency in August before the aides to the Florida Clemency Board where he was granted a clemency hearing pending the conclusion of further investigation.

If Maharaj is eventually refused clemency, then he will be unable to apply for clemency for a further three years.


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