A 75-year-old British businessman imprisoned for a 1986 Miami double murder says he was framed for the crime by Pablo Escobar—and has provided at least some evidence for that outlandish claim in court. A former cartel member testified in Florida this week that the crime for which Krishna Maharaj was convicted—killing a Jamaican-Chinese father-son pair named Derrick and Duane Moo Young—was in fact ordered by Escobar. From the Guardian:
Testifying anonymously for fear of reprisals, the pilot recalled a poolside meeting at Escobar’s Colombian ranch soon after the murders at which the so-called king of cocaine confessed to having Derrick Moo Young and his son Duane “whacked” because they had double-crossed him …
“He was discussing several people that had stolen from him that he had whacked. He said something about ‘los Chinos’ [the Chinese]. He said one Chino had stolen from him. He said he had killed him across from the hotel that I was staying in. There were several hotels there but the major hotel across from me was the Dupont Plaza.”
Per the Daily Beast, Maharaj claims that he was tricked into visiting Miami’s DuPont Plaza Hotel for a nonexistent business meeting so that there would be evidence of his presence at the hotel when the Moo Youngs were killed there. Maharaj, at the time, was running an import-export business and suing the Moo Youngs over transactions involving bananas. Prosecutors said this gave him a motive, while he argues it made him an easy target for a frame-up.
Maharaj is being represented by Clive Stafford Smith, the founder of a London-based human rights group called Reprieve, which also represents several inmates at Guantánamo Bay. Stafford Smith says a number of connections between Escobar and the murders—including the presence at the DuPont Plaza of a man named Jaime Vallejo Mejia who was under investigation for laundering cocaine proceeds—were ignored by corrupt police officers. Prosecutors say Stafford Smith and Maharaj’s evidence is unreliable hearsay. Testimony in the hearing finished today, and a judge will now decide whether to overturn Maharaj’s sentence, order a new trial, or let his conviction stand.