Six years after murder at Great Portland Street the suspect still evades justice

Buildings on Great Portland Street.

Six years after her body was found in a basement in Great Portland Street, the only suspect in the murder of Martine Magnussen has not been brought to justice.

By News Reporters Next month it will be six years since a Norwegian student was found murdered in a basement in Great Portland Street. To date no-one has been charged or brought to trial and the only suspect continues to evade justice.

Martine Vik Magnussen was killed in London on 14 March 2008. She was 23 years old. Her friends and family still hope that there will be justice for Martine.

The Metropolitan Police have the only suspect listed among their most wanted. Farouk Abdulhak (born 18/02/1987) is of Yemeni and Egyptian origins, was at the time studying at Regents Business School, London and is known to have fled to Yemen immediately following the murder. He is known to have connections in Europe, U.S.A, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, say the Police.

Campaigners and press reports say that he is living in Yemen under the protection of his father, Shaher Abdulhak. Yemen has no extradition treaty with the United Kingdom or Norway.

Martine Magnussen was born in Oslo on 6 February 1985 and after finishing school she came to London to study international business. It was at Regents College where she met Farouk Abdulhak who was also a student there. He was a known associate of Martine Magnussen and two days before her body was discovered the two of them were seen leaving the Maddox nightclub in Mayfair. That was the last time anyone saw her alive.

Friends then reported Magnussen as missing and shortly after police discovered her buried body in the basement of an apartment block at 222 Great Portland Street where Abdulhak had been living. She had been raped and strangled.

Reports in the press last year say that pro-democracy activists staged demonstrations in Yemen calling for Mr Abdulhak to be extradited to the UK. Demonstrators in Aden carried banners calling for “Justice for Martine” and showing a mock-up photograph of the suspect behind bars. Lawyers for Abdulhak say he is innocent but will only agree to stand trial in Yemen.

Martine’s father, Odd Petter Magnussen, continues to campaign for his daughter’s suspected killer to be brought before a British court. But with no extradition agreement between the the UK and Yemen, it seems unlikely that Abdulhak will face a trial here.

However, Mr Magnussen and friends of Martine are still hopeful of justice being done. In an email to Fitzrovia News Mr Magnussen praised the Metropolitan Police for their efforts and those of the British government but expressed frustration with Norway and the delaying tactics of the family of Abdulhak.

Although I am pleased with UK authorites efforts in the case till now, I have been disappointed on the lack of efforts and pressure excercised by Norwegian authorities in the case,” writes Magnussen.

Talks with the suspect’s lawyer in Yemen indicated that Abdulhak was prepared to answer the allegations but only at a trial in Yemen. However, Yemen uses the death penalty and this is not supported by either the UK or Norway and so prevents the trial being held on legal grounds, says Magnussen.

“The suspect’s father last year took further steps to initiate a dialogue with Oslo and UK authorities via his representatives. We thought the combined pressure from various actors and the wealthy father’s desire to improve on his legacy may have opened up for a just and voluntary return by his suspected son to the UK.”

But it appears the father was deliberately stalling for time and was simultaneously trying to arrange a marriage for his son.

“It was still encouraging to learn that two Yemeni fathers denied having their daughters married to the internationally wanted suspect. Despite the economical aspects that may have been part of such a proposed arrangement, it is interesting to see that for some the same universal ethics, parental standards and care for daughters are the same in Yemen as with most others throughout the world,” says Magnussen.

I think any civilized human being understands that today’s legal vacuum is absurd. Today anyone can be beyond the law by crossing a border following any crimes, be it traficking, kidnapping, money laundry, stabbing, rape, murder or terror.  

“Two years ago I addressed this legal vacuum with Norwegian legal experts ending up in resolution in the OSCE on ‘Transnational Fugitive Offenders’ signed by 58 countries.  My wish is that this resolution in turn may produce new international legislations that will fill the legal vacuum that lack of extradition treaties between countries open up. Making the world safer for all in this way will also mean that Martine did not die in vain in Great Portland Street in March six years ago,” he writes.

Magnussen says he has been repeatedly assured that the UK is making its best efforts. He met with Hugh Robertson, minster of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, in January this year.

“Although they cannot go into any details on the police’s continued efforts, I feel confident that they are doing their best to progress matters within legal boundaries. As Norwegian authorities are not responsible for the legal process, but have the same legal ambition as the UK, they could excercise more pressure against Yemen. I expect they will.

“Any public support for the case in the UK is desirable, as it will make all authorities involved aware that this case is not going away.  As the suspect did not hold a Yemeni passport on his arrival in Yemen after fleeing the UK, but only a Syrian, Egyptian and US passport, such support will also be effective towards such countries as well.”

Picture of Martine Vik Magnussen.

There is a campaign to bring justice for Martine Magnussen at justiceformartine.com

Update 27 February 2014: The Norwegian press report the suspect has now got married to a Yemeni woman. Martine’s father told Fitzrovia News: “It was with great sadness my family and I yesterday received the news that one Yemeni family last fall accepted to have a family member married to the internationally wanted suspect of the rape and killing of Martine. Although nothing is changed legally as to the suspect’s status, external leverage on the suspect’s father and Yemeni authorities after having protected an international wanted suspect without a Yemeni passport fleeing the UK to Yemen in March 2008, will be reduced.”

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