Student rape suspect 'should be tried in UK'

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The Independent Online

The prime suspect in the murder of a Norwegian student could be flushed from his Yemen hideout by international political pressure, her family said today.

Billionaire playboy Farouk Abdulhak, 22, is living out of reach of British justice in the Middle Eastern state, which will not extradite its citizens.

Scotland Yard has named him as the only suspect in the murder of Martine Vik Magnussen, who was found dead in March 2008.

Speaking in London, the victim's father, Odd Petter Magnussen, pleaded with the authorities to make sure Abdulhak is tried in Britain.

He suggested Farouk may be "voluntarily" extradited as part of a wider picture of politician pressure after the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day.

The Yemen government has been called on to do more to target terrorists after bomb suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab said he was trained by al Qaida there.

Mr Magnussen said: "This question of justice is something that has to do with right and wrong. Irrespective of the political or religious environment in the world, justice has to prevail.

"That is the question the suspect's family have to deal with and I hope they come to the conclusion that will be in line with the police here and our family."

Authorities in Yemen have offered to put Abdulhak on trial if investigators share their dossier of evidence against him.

But the British and Norwegian governments have told the family this is not acceptable as Yemen could impose the death penalty.

Detective Chief Inspector Jessica Wadsworth, who led the inquiry, said the police investigation is complete.

The senior officer said she hopes Abdulhak will be caught travelling as his details have been circulated worldwide and a European arrest warrant issued.

Speaking at New Scotland Yard, she said: "It is a frustrating place to be. We have worked closely with Mr Magnussen and all the authorities to do everything we can to secure his return to the UK.

"We want to make it clear it is something we will pursue until we find justice for Martine."

Mrs Wadsworth said Abdulhak does have access to a private jet and there have been reports he has travelled outside Yemen.

She admitted it may be "hit and miss" whether he is caught in some countries, particularly some Middle Eastern states.

The body of Miss Magnussen was found semi-naked and partially buried in rubble in the basement of Abdulhak's central London block of flats on March 16, 2008.

Investigators discovered she had been raped and strangled. Abdulhak fled the country via Egypt.

She was last seen by friends leaving the trendy Maddox nightclub in Mayfair with Abdulhak in the early hours of March 14.

The two were students at Regent's Business School and part of the same young international social set.

Abdulhak's father is billionaire businessman Shaher Abdulhak, who founded Shaher Trading and whose empire now includes petroleum, soft drinks, tourism and property.

Earlier today, coroner Dr Paul Knapman said an "impasse" appeared to have been reached but said "murder cases are always open".

Miss Magnussen was described as a "mild, inclusive and generous" woman who was fun to be with and enjoyed a wide circle of friends.

She travelled to London to study international business after dropping out of a medical course in Warsaw, Poland.

Mr Knapman said a full inquest should be held "as soon as practicable" and this will not be a bar to prosecution. A review hearing was set for April 19.

The case is extremely high profile in Norway and thousands of people took to the streets of Oslo in December to urge politicians to do more to force Abdulhak to face a court.