By Marita Maharaj
My elderly husband, Kris Maharaj, might die in a foreign prison for a crime I know he did not commit. But the British government is refusing to help him get a fair trial.
I am 77 years old and I spent this Christmas visiting my British husband Kris Maharaj in an American jail. He is innocent, but this is the thirtieth Christmas we have spent like this, including many years on death row. The week before this Christmas, he was diagnosed for the second time with necrotising fasciitis (“flesh eating bacteria”), an infection which has already confined him to a wheelchair. I fear for his life.
I was up at 3am and went to the prison early for my visit. As I waited outside the prison, an ambulance drove in. I thought it was for Kris. If so, I knew he was a dead man. By the time they take someone to hospital from that awful jail, it is normally too late. It turned out that the person in the ambulance was not my husband: he had suffered a heart attack, and he was dead before he got help.
So Kris and I spent a couple of hours in the visiting room. His leg was still swollen like an elephant’s, but he’d had a series of injections, each a thousand milligrams of antibiotic, and he seemed to be responding. I left to return home, where I had laid the table for Christmas dinner as I always do, with a place for my husband. I know it is silly, but I pray for a miracle, that he should somehow walk in the front door, shouting cheerfully that he is home, as he always used to. Of course he didn’t and I was too depressed to cook a meal.
But Boris Johnson delivered the coup de grace to Christmas. Via our lawyer Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve, I learned that the Government had refused to help with my husband’s case, after weeks of prevaricating. We had asked the Foreign Office to file an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief supporting Kris. Sir Peter Bottomley MP, the conservative MP, had contacted Mr. Johnson imploring him to take this action. All we want is a chance to present witnesses – now that there are half a dozen Colombian drug cartel people who are willing to admit that their drug dealers, rather than my husband, killed Derrick and Duane Moo Young in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in downtown Miami on October 16th, 1986.
Their evidence would be added to half a dozen alibi witnesses who place Kris forty minutes north of the hotel. None of this has come as a surprise to me: I know my husband is innocent as I saw him myself right at the time they say he was committing the murders. All I want is for the British government to demand that Kris should have the right to be heard.
If Kris’ British passport means anything, such an intervention is surely not a lot to ask? After all, as a corporation, BP does not have a passport, and yet in 2013 the Government filed an amicus brief challenging a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that was costing BP some of its “annual revenue and production.” Does BP’s ability to avoid responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico mean more to the Government than my long-suffering husband’s right to prove that he is innocent of murder?
Back in happier days, when Kris worked long days establishing his successful businesses in London, he paid a lot of taxes. He never complained, as he felt that he got value for his money from the British government. Sometimes, he still does. I cannot praise certain Foreign Office staff in the Miami consulate enough for the efforts made to ensure Kris gets the antibiotics he needs.
But I am disgusted at Mr. Johnson. Does he really want Kris to die in prison before he does something meaningful to get my husband home? Or will he meet the January 9th deadline to intervene to help save the man I have stood by all these years?
– Marita Maharaj has been married to Kris Maharaj for forty years. She lives in Florida to remain near to her husband.