Odd Petter Magnussen has been seeking justice for the death of his daughter Martine since she was found lifeless in the cellar of a fashionable apartment building in London 15 years ago. Now the wealthy young man she was last seen leaving a nightclub with has spoken about her death and attributes it to “a sex accident that went wrong.”
Farouk Abdulhak, son of one of Yemen’s wealthiest businessmen, and Martine Vik Magnussen both studied at Regent’s College in London. She was found strangled in the cellar of the building where Abdulhak lived. He fled the UK just hours after what he now calls an alleged “accident,” and is believed to have been in Yemen ever since, under the protection of his family and, reportedly, the Houthiane group that seeks government power in Yemen.
Patrick Lundevall-Unger, a Norwegian lawyer who leads a foundation also seeking justice for Martine, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that if Houthiane “wants to show the world that they follow democratic principles,” they can help arrange his extradition to the UK where Abdulhak faces charges of rape and murder. British police have been unable to bring him in for trial since the UK has no extradition treaty with Yemen.
That has frustrated Martine Vik Magnussen’s family, her friends, top politicians in Norway and not least her father, a successful Norwegian businessman himself who’s even appealed to Abdulhak’s father, to no avail. Now he hopes that a documentary produced by the BBC (external link) and Norway’s TV2, in which Abdulhak finally addresses the death of Martine Vik Magnussen in March 2008, can be “a game changer” in the case.
“Now he has declared himself to be a murderer,” Magnussen told NRK this week. “In my opinion this is a pure confession to murder. It redefines the whole case.” At the very least, Magnussen calls Abdulhak’s statements taped by the BBC and TV2 a “breakthrough” that can also change opinion within Abdulhak’s family, because he “confirms” that Martine died at his hands.
Abdulhak told BBC journalist Nawal Al-Maghafi that he’s “sorry for the unfortunate accident” that allegedly occurred while he was with Martine. Her obduction report attributed her death to strangling and “pressure against the throat.” Her body also showed signs of injury that typically occur during a struggle.
There were things he did “when I was younger,” he admitted, calling it a mistake. He claims he still doesn’t know what happened with Martine and that he has “flashbacks” at times. Asked whether he would travel back to UK and take responsibility for his part in the still-unresolved case, he said he thinks the penal system in Great Britain is too partial. “I’m the son of an Arab, the son of someone wealthy,” he said, adding that it’s “too late” now.
Martine’s father and many others disagree. Abdulhak remains the only suspect in the case. Sarah Mahoney of the London police told newspaper Dagbladet that despite all the years that have passed, “we continue to do everything in our power to get him back to Great Britain so that he can face trial.”