Gilham (Appellant) v Ministry of Justice (Respondent)  UKSC 44 – read judgment The UK Supreme Court has unanimously granted an appeal by a district judge against the Court of Appeal’s decision that she did not qualify as a “worker” under the Employment Rights Act 1996 (the “1996 Act”), and therefore could not benefit from the whistleblowing protections…
The disgraceful treatment of this man in Florida continues. The American justice system shamed
Every time I [Clive Stafford Smith] think that Kris Maharaj cannot be subjected to any more injustice, agents of the State of Florida comes up trumps. I last visited Kris in the euphemistically named South Florida Reception in September. I went to share the good news that the Magistrate Judge had set a hearing for October 17th. This meant we would finally be allowed to prove that his trial was manifestly unfair – and the last 33 years he’s spent in Florida’s prison system are unjust.
I should have known the devastating impact of a broken justice system could not be remedied so quickly – 33 years and counting. The Magistrate had already agreed that we had submitted proof such that no reasonable juror could now convict Kris of the murders of Derrick and Duane Moo Young in Room 1215 of Miami’s Dupont Plaza Hotel all those years ago on October 16th, 1986. We dismantled every element of the prosecution case against Kris, and obtained sworn testimony from six unimpeached alibi witnesses who placed him far away. Kris even passed his lie detector test: the prosecution’s star witness did not.
Lastly, we lined up half a dozen Colombian cartel witnesses who expressed shock that Kris was locked up for killing the Moo Youngs. The murders were a hit ordered by Pablo Escobar, they said – the Moo Youngs had been stealing from the Narcos and “had to die.” One might imagine that this would be sufficient for Kris to be restored to the arms of his long-suffering wife Marita, but under current U.S. precedent it is – we are told – possible that a fair trial should come to the wrong result. Hence, logic mandates, the mere fact that you are innocent is not enough: you must prove the trial was itself marred.
I stayed with Marita the night before my prison visit. She lives a lonely life in Florida, only permitted to visit her husband every week or two. Those visits are sacred to both of them. The only disciplinary sanction Kris has got in the last three decades he has spent in prison involved a violation of the visitation policy – he stole a second kiss with his wife, when the rules only allow one. Marita’s cottage is a shrine to the life they once had, with pictures of the couple in their London heyday, when Kris was a self-made millionaire.
She served me breakfast at the table where, every Christmas for the past 33 years, she has set a place for her husband, maintaining the fantasy that he might walk in any moment. In the prison visitation area, Kris and I planned for his hearing. Though the Magistrate had only given us three weeks to prepare, we would meet the deadline. After all, it meant that Kris and Marita might – at long last – actually share their Christmas dinner this year.
AFTER 26 years working on the case, we were ready to prove multiple constitutional violations – from the suppression of exculpatory evidence (a government informant told them in 1986 that the cartel committed the murders), to the fact that the judge had himself been arrested on the third day of the trial for taking a bribe from a law enforcement agent posing as a drug dealer.
The first slap came with the State’s request for three months extra to prepare. That may not seem much, but it takes us into 2020, by which time Kris will be 81-years-old and Marita 80. The potential knock-out blow came the next day when the State filed an appeal, to try to prevent the hearing altogether. For 20 pages they argued that Kris should be barred from presenting evidence at all. It is all nonsense, of course.
They even had the gall to argue that we have not been diligent in pursuing proof of innocence, when I have been to Colombia and back to get it. We will do what we have always done: trudge on towards justice, hoping to persuade the appellate judge to respond with expedition. Meanwhile the State’s lawyers callously run down the clock on Kris’s life. I do sometimes wonder how people sleep at night. I know I have often not been able to in the 26 years when Kris and Marita have been my responsibility, but that is because I fear I have not done enough, rather than too much.
I am working with Kris and the team at Reprieve to prepare for Kris’ trial in January. Hopefully, no other blows hit us between now and then. Kris and Marita should not have to spend any more time apart because of an unfair trial 33 years ago.
Thank you for reading,
Read our latest death penalty report.
If you live in the Salisbury/Amesbury/Downton area and would like to join our group you would be most welcome. You can come to one of our monthly meetings which take place on the second Thursday at 7:30 in Victoria Road Salisbury or come along to one of our events and make yourself known. Keep and eye on this site or on Facebook or Twitter to see what we have planned.
Israel & Palestine
Salisbury group members might be interested in this talk at Sarum College. It is organised by the Sarum Concern for Israel Palestine who organise many good talks on this troubled region. It is on 18 November, 7 for 7:30 pm at Sarum College which is in the Close. Further details from http://www.sarumconcern.org. It free but with a parting collection.
If you would like to join the local group you would be very welcome. Keep an eye on this site or on Twitter or Facebook whichever you prefer (salisburyai) and make yourself known at a future meeting. We have a film at the Arts centre in November.
The minutes of the October group meeting are now available and can be accessed below. Thanks to group member Lesley for writing them up. A busy meeting with a number of events happening over the coming months.
The latest death penalty report produced by the group is available and thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it. In the report is a link to the Japanese man who has been imprisoned and on death row for four decades and is now of interest again because the Pope has become involved.
This is a post from Reprieve concerning the death penalty in Egypt
Children are still being tried
Four years ago, the Egyptian Government committed – on the world stage – to end the death penalty for children. But, despite this commitment, a loophole in Egypt’s Child Law continues to allow children to be tried alongside adults on capital offences. Children in Egypt remain at risk of the death penalty. That’s why some of my team are in Geneva this week.
My colleagues working against the death penalty in Egypt are at a United Nations event this week. Our aim is to make sure other countries like the UK hold Egypt to account on its failed promise from four years ago. We’re doing this in the lead up to Egypt’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN on November 13th.
That means we only have a few weeks to make the case to every other country that Egypt needs to be held accountable for its failure to close the loophole and protect the human rights of children. The more countries that speak up and put pressure on Egypt, the more likely they are to close the loophole.
In turn, UK officials are more likely to step up if they see that this is something UK citizens care about. That’s why we need your help in spreading this campaign, getting more signatures, and gathering as much support as possible for ending the death penalty for children for good.
Please could you add your support.
Alternatively go to firstname.lastname@example.org
Briton now has to wait until January for his release
In a recent post we described the situation Kris Maharaj has experienced in Florida USA where he has been imprisoned for 33 years for a crime he did not commit. There was to be a hearing on 17th of this month but we have just heard from Reprieve that this has been put back until January. The message from Reprieve is copied below:
Justice delayed is justice denied.
Since you wrote your message of support to Kris Maharaj and his wife Marita, I’m sorry to say there has been a frustrating development. Kris’ chance at justice was set for October 17th – but yesterday we heard it will not even happen this year.
That’s because the Florida Department of Corrections immediately sought and was granted a 90-day extension until January 18th 2020. 90 days may not sound like a lot, but Kris and his wife Marita have already been waiting 33 years for this nightmare to end.
Any delay is an injustice – and this will take us almost to Kris’ 81st birthday. We need to make sure they do not lose hope.
Can you share this latest instalment of injustice with your friends and family and ask them to add their own words of support? Here’s a suggested message you can send them:
Kris is a British man who was charged with a murder he could not have committed. Yet he remains in a Florida prison. His chance at justice has again been delayed, this time for another 90 days. Add your words of support to Kris and his wife Marita as they endure the latest instalment of their ordeal: https://act.reprieve.org.uk/page/s/send-a-message-of-support-to-kris-and-marita
Or, you can share this story on Facebook or WhatsApp using the below buttons.
The death penalty in Saudi Arabia: Salisbury group action