Martine’s family still seeking justice

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It’s been 10 years since Martine Vik Magnussen, a 23-year-old student from an affluent Norwegian family, was found raped and murdered in London. The only suspect, her classmate Farouk Abdulhak with whom she’d been seen leaving a London nightclub, fled the UK before police could arrest him. Now both her family and Scotland Yard are appealing once again to his billionaire parents to see that justice is finally served.

Murder victim Martine Vik Magnussen. She was last seen leaving a nightclub in London with Farouk Abdulhak, a fellow student at the business school where both were enrolled. He is the prime suspect in her murder. PHOTO: www.justiceformartine.com

Abdulhak is the son of Shaher Abdulhak, said to be one of the wealthiest men in the Middle East, and Rowayda Michael Besher, whom Oslo newspaper Aftenposten describes as a Syrian-American educated as a lawyer with family in Texas. Prosecutors and the victim’s Norwegian family are both calling on them to stop protecting their son who remains charged with both rape and murder.

“I urge in the strongest of terms that the suspect’s mother actively contribute towards getting her son to report to police and go on trial,” Kristin Vik, Martine’s mother, told newspaper Aftenposten over the weekend. “He must take responsibility for his actions regardless of the outcome. She (Rowayda Michael Besher) at least has a son who’s alive. I will never get Martine back.”

Martine’s father, Odd Petter Magnussen, has also carried on a tireless effort to seek justice, stymied by the fact that when the younger Abdulhak fled first to Cairo where he grew up and then reportedly to Yemen, where his family lived at the time, he put himself out of reach of British authorities. The UK has no extradition agreement with Yemen, so police have been unable to demand his return for questioning and a likely murder trial.

On Wednesday, 10 years to the day since his daughter disappeared just before the Easter holidays, Magnussen was back in London to take part in a memorial both at the university where Martine and Farouk Abdulhak studied and at the apartment building where her body was found. He also met again with inspectors from Scotland Yard, who released video from a security camera at the nightclub Maddox in London’s posh Mayfair district showing Martine and Farouk together.

“In the video I see completely normal behaviour from both Martine and the suspect,” Magnussen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday. “They were friends and fellow students, they weren’t a couple. I see a normal evening that never should have ended in tragedy.”

Andy Partridge, leader of the investigation for the London Metropolitan Police, said at a press conference in London that the goal is still the same a decade later: To win justice for Martine. He and his colleagues released the video in an effort to increase the pressure on Farouk Abdulhak, whom Aftenposten reports is believed to now be married with a child and, likely, a different identity and facial features.

Now Martine’s parents, who are divorced, are appealing again to his parents, who reportedly live a luxurious life with homes in Cairo, the US and Paris, and holidays on the Greek island of Mykonos. Photos posted by Farouk’s sister Salwa show the family together, without Farouk. Martine’s mother claims that Farouk’s mother has “clearly shown a lack of judicial responsibility” by “not doing anything” to to get her son to report to police and answer questions.

“I don’t hate him (Farouk) and I have no desire for revenge,” Vik told Aftenposten, noting how that wouldn’t bring Martine back. She just wants a trial, a verdict and some form of closure to the worst ordeal for any parent.

Repeated attempts to obtain comment from either parent had failed until an attorney for Shaher Abdulhak in London sent a short statement to Aftenposten that seemed to be an attempt to express some sympathy for Martine’s parents. He refused to answer any further questions, nor will his wife.

Norway’s own foreign ministry claims it’s still trying to help Martine’s parents but stresses that the investigation is in the hands of the London police. A ministry spokespersons said the case has been further complicated by the civil war in Yemen. Farouk’s whereabouts are unclear although it’s believed he lived in Yemen for several years after running away from London. An international warrant for his arrest remains valid.

“He was a guest in our country when the murder of Martine occurred and I think the only responsible thing for him to do is to come back,” said Partridge, the leader of the investigation in London. “If he thinks that this case will just go away, or that his status will change, he’s wrong. This case will not disappear.” Nor is there any statue of limitations, he added.

Martine’s father, who also had a meeting with Britain’s government minister responsible for the Middle East and North Africa, went further: “Today I address the person who has continued to lead a protected life without any consequences, while my family has suffered the biggest loss a family can suffer. I want him (Farouk) to know that 10 years after the murder, we are continuing the hunt for justice for Martine.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund