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Phuket Gazette World News: Briton jailed 27 years for Florida murders seeks to reopen case

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Briton jailed 27 years for Fla. murders seeks to reopen case
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Lawyers for a British man convicted in Florida for a 1986 double homicide sought to reopen the case on Tuesday, claiming that three Colombian drug traffickers were the real killers.

Krishna Maharaj’s lawyers have contended for years that Colombian cartels were responsible for the shooting deaths of Derrick and Duane Moo Young, but the defence motion filed in state court represents the first time the lawyers were specific in their allegations.

Maharaj, 74, was convicted in 1987 in the deaths of the father and son in a downtown Miami hotel suite. He spent a decade on death row before his sentence was commuted to two life sentences in 1997.

Lawyers for Maharaj mounted a private investigation in Colombia that they say resulted in three Colombian drug traffickers coming forward to claim the killings were done “at the behest of Pablo Escobar,” the former head of the Medellin cartel gunned down by police in 1993.

“Krishna Maharaj was not involved in the murder of the Moo Youngs, and they had to be eliminated because they had lost Colombian drug money,” according to one of the drug traffickers quoted in the defence motion.

The lawyers wrote that the killings were carried out by Escobar hit man Manuel Zuluaga, also known as “Cuchilla” (the Blade); Jaime Vallejo Mejia, a convicted cartel money launderer; and cartel hit man Jhon Henry ‘El Chino” Rodriguez.

Zuluaga was killed in 1993, and Reuters was not immediately able to locate Vallejo Mejia and Rodriguez or obtain comment from their attorneys.

Assistant State Attorney Penny Brill said “there is nothing in the (new) motion besides hearsay and inadmissible evidence.”

The lawyers had previously submitted fingerprints for the three Colombians to the state attorney’s office for comparison with 19 unmatched fingerprints found at the crime scene.

A preliminary government analysis of the fingerprints indicated they were not of sufficient quality to be compared with the unmatched prints, Brill told the court.

Judge William Thomas said he would hold a hearing next week on whether he has the authority to order the state to give the defence access to the unmatched prints for analysis.

Under Florida law, overturning a jury’s verdict, especially after so many years, requires an exceptionally high standard of evidence. The Miami-Dade County prosecutor’s office has said it stands by the handling of Maharaj’s case.

Maharaj’s lawyers claim that the Moo Youngs were killed after seeking to pay a drug debt with a forged letter of credit that was found at the crime scene, but not disclosed to the defence until well after Maharaj’s conviction.

Maharaj and the Moo Youngs were former business partners and neighbors, both with roots in the Caribbean. Maharaj hails from an elite Trinidadian-Indian family while the Moo Youngs, who are of Chinese descent, is from Jamaica. Before he moved to Florida in the 1980s, Maharaj lived in London.

The two families fell out after Maharaj accused Derrick Moo Young of cheating him out of $400,000. Prosecutors cited that at trial as the motive for the murders.

Maharaj’s fingerprints were found in the room where the shootings took place, but he said he left the room before the Moo Youngs arrived.

One of the Colombians named by the lawyers, Vallejo Mejia, was staying in a room opposite the Moo Youngs at the time of the shootings. He was briefly interviewed by police, and was later convicted in a separate money-laundering case.

The case has drawn significant media attention, with a book written by one of Maharaj’s lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith, and several TV documentaries in the works.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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World

International travel slow to take off, Covid-19 restrictions evolving

Caitlin Ashworth

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International travel slow to take off, Covid-19 restrictions evolving | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jetstar

While Thailand is working on safely, and slowly, reopening its borders to foreign tourists after a 7 month border closure, other countries are also adapting to new, pandemic-induced, travel measures and restrictions. Now some are slowly lifting restrictions and resuming flights, while some remain grounded. What’s happening in your part of the world?

In all cases, check your local travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, if any. And if you leave a country, what paperwork or restrictions will await you when you return? Don’t book any flights until you’ve done your homework.

Australia

Qantas Airlines flights from Australia to the US will continue to be grounded until at least January 31, 2021 which includes the destinations New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu. The airline will also continue to ground flights to Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo.

Singapore

Jetstar Asia, based in Singapore, will resume flights to major destinations in Southeast Asia with flights to Bangkok starting next month. Since flights are always changing due to uncertainties and travel restrictions, flights to select Southeast Asia cities are only being offered from October 25 to November 15. JetStar will then review flights again. Destinations include Clark in the Philippines, Jakarta in Indonesia as well as Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong and Singapore have agreed on a travel bubble schemed that will allow Hong Kong nationals and Singapore nationals to travel between the 2 countries without going through Covid-19 tests or quarantine periods. But the countries have not announced when the scheme will begin.

Maldives

All incoming tourists and short-term visitors must have a certificate declaring negative Covid-19 test result issued 96 hours before arrival, extending the window from the previous 72 hours.

SOURCE: TTR Weekly

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid19 – US infections “balloon”, world case total surpasses 40 million

The Thaiger

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Covid19 – US infections “balloon”, world case total surpasses 40 million | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ipsos

“We were really hoping to crater the cases in preparation for a bad winter. We’ve done basically the opposite.”

New Covid-19 cases are again surging in many countries. Globally, the number of infected people exceeded 40 million as of last night with new infections starting to accelerate again. Today the total number of confirmed cases around the world is 40,323,461. The number of total deaths remains at 1,118,826 and recovered patients at 30,135,040 (as of 4pm Thai time).

Covid19 - US infections

Notably, the death rate from Covid-19 is not rising as treatment for complicated cases continues to rapidly improve. The US, India, Russia, Brazil, the rest of South America, and parts of Europe and the UK, are the current ‘hot spots’ (below).

Regionally, the surge of cases in Myanmar is causing headaches for Thai border officials in the north west of the country. The Governor of Tak decided to close the border checkpoints this morning. But the 2,000 kilometre long land border between Thailand and Myanmar has many unofficial “Natural” crossing points.

In the US, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says following public health measures is the way out of the crisis that has hobbled the economy, claimed thousands of lives and sickened millions.

“The predicted fall surge is here, and rising cases across the US appear to bear that out.”

The US is averaging more than 55,000 new cases a day, and 10 states reported their highest single-day cases counts last Friday. As of this morning, US time, there were more than 8.5 million cases and 219,674 coronavirus deaths, according to Worldometers.info

“The Covid-19 crisis would have to be ‘really, really bad’ to implement a national lockdown. Despite the climbing totals, a nationwide lockdown is not the way forward unless the pandemic gets “really, really bad.”

Tara Smith, a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University says the worst fears of rising cases, leading into winter, are being realised.

“We were really hoping to crater the cases in preparation for a bad winter. We’ve done basically the opposite.”

After hitting an all-time high in July, cases did drop significantly, but the US never reached a level where the public health system could truly get a handle on the outbreak or describe it as ‘contained’.

Now infections are on the rise again, driven by ballooning outbreaks across the country’s interior, especially in the Midwest, the Great Plains and the West.

Contributing to the rise is the return of students to schools and campuses across the country, puzzling resistance to social distancing and mask wearing recommendations, and more people spending time in restaurants and other indoor settings as the weather starts to cool down.

SOURCE: worldometers.info | nor.org

Covid19 - US infections

TABLE: worldometers.com

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

2 Covid vaccine trials halted in phase 3 over safety concerns

Maya Taylor

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2 Covid vaccine trials halted in phase 3 over safety concerns | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Medical Xpress

After Johnson & Johnson paused phase 3 of its Covid vaccine trials due to safety concerns, a second pharmaceutical company has followed suit. Eli Lilly has halted phase 3 trials of a lab-produced antibody treatment, 24 hours after the Johnson & Johnson decision. The Bangkok Post reports that an unspecified incident led Eli Lilly to call a temporary halt to the trials. The day before, Johnson & Johnson paused its phase 3 trials after a participant fell ill. A spokesperson for J&J says the hiatus is temporary.

The 2 delays follow a similar incident with phase 3 trials of a vaccine being jointly worked on by Oxford University and Astra Zeneca, which was briefly delayed last month due to an unexplained illness in one participant. Trials of that vaccine have now resumed globally, with the exception of the US, for reasons unknown. Such snags are par for the course in the final phase testing of vaccine development, particularly as the number of participants is increased significantly to see if very rare side-effects are presented.

A spokesperson for Eli Lilly says the company backs the Data Safety and Monitoring Board in calling a temporary halt to phase 3 trials.

“Lilly is supportive of the decision by the independent DSMB to cautiously ensure the safety of the patients participating in this study.”

Eli Lilly’s trial began in August, aimed at recruiting 10,000 participants, across 50 sites, including the US, Denmark and Singapore, using a lab-produced antibody treatment, similar to that developed by Regeneron and used to treat US President Donald Trump recently. Eli Lilly has not given any further information about the safety concern which has paused phase 3.

Meanwhile, a J&J spokesman says such breaks are to be expected in large-scale trials and that reported illnesses or side-effects may be unrelated to the vaccine.

“It’s not at all unusual for unexpected illnesses in large studies over their duration. In some cases, serious adverse events may have something or nothing to do with the drug or vaccine being investigated.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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