Letter: British on death row

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The Independent Culture
British on death row

Sir: "We are a nation with a penchant for stories involving Brits apparently wrongly convicted in foreign courts" (leading article, 17 June). Are we indeed?

Two British citizens, Kenny Richey and Krishna Maharaj, have been on death row in Ohio and Florida respectively for the past 11 years for murders that neither committed. Their trials were a travesty of justice, yet their plight then and since has been largely ignored, not least by the Foreign Office. Letters to the Foreign Secretary receive only a lame or evasive response. The conclusion is that the Government is more concerned with not offending the Americans than protecting its own citizens.

In Krishna Maharaj's case the immediate need is money for a properly conducted appeal. Surely one should not have to plead for what should be a right? Yet the Foreign Office's response is to point to the free availability of a defence lawyer in the US. They do not say, though they must know, that invariably he will be poorly paid and of such low calibre as to be positively harmful to any defence.

The Foreign Secretary's ethical foreign policy would gain greater credibility if he would interest himself in the fate of these two men.


Newcastle upon Tyne