US & Canada

Krishna Maharaj loses bid for murder retrial

Krishna Maharaj sits in Circuit Court during a legal hearing in Miami, Florida, November 10, 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Krishna Maharaj's lawyers said they "shell-shocked" he had not been granted a new trial

A Florida judge has rejected a bid for a new trial by a British businessman convicted of two murders in the 1980s.

Krishna Maharaj, 75, has been in prison for 27 years for the killing of Derrick and Duane Moo Young.

Defence lawyers argued the murders had been ordered by now-dead Colombian cartel leader Pablo Escobar.

But Judge William Thomas said evidence presented at a hearing fell "dramatically short" of establishing anyone else killed the father and son.

Maharaj's lawyers called two former government informants on Escobar to testify that the Moo Youngs were stealing money from the drug lord.

An American pilot who flew cocaine shipments for the cartel said he heard Escobar order the killings.

"I'm totally shell-shocked by the idea that after everything we presented he could deny a retrial," said Clive Stafford Smith - Maharaj's lawyer and the director of Reprieve, a London-based human rights advocacy group.

Maharaj will appeal the decision, he said.

Prosecutors argued the defence's evidence was only hearsay. Maharaj's fingerprints were found in the hotel room where the killings took place, they argued, and the businessman had accused Derrick Moo Young, a former business partner, of stealing money.

Shaula-Ann Nagel - daughter and sister of the victims - began crying when the decision was announced.

"The judge saw the truth," she said. "We're all tired of this. It keeps rising up every few years and now it's over."

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