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Father of murdered student tells suspect ‘you can run but you can’t hide’

The father of a Norwegian student who was murdered in London is determined to secure justice 13 years on from her killing (Picture: PA)

The father of a Norwegian student murdered 13 years ago has warned the suspect that he can’t hide forever despite his family’s wealth.

Odd Petter Magnussen, 69, called on billionaire’s son Farouk Abdulhak to return to the UK from Yemen and face justice over Martine Vik Magnussen’s killing.

He spoke of his determination that his family will secure a conviction in the 23-year-old business student’s memory that will have wider implications for international law.

Speaking to Metro.co.uk ahead of the anniversary of his daughter’s death on Sunday, Mr Magnussen also disclosed his fears that a more brutal form of justice may be meted out to Abdulhak, depriving the family of the ethical outcome his daughter would have wanted.

Ms Magnussen’s body was found semi-naked and surrounded by rubble in the basement of a property where Abdulhak was living in Westminster, London. She had been raped and strangled.

Within hours, the playboy fled to Egypt and then on to Yemen, where he is believed to be in the capital, Sanaa, which was taken over by the Houthi movement in 2014.

The Magnussen family is trying to bring international political pressure to bear as well as appealing to the Houthi and Yemeni people in a country that does not have an extradition treaty with the UK.

Undated handout photo issued by Metropolitan Police of Norwegian student Martine Vik Magnussen, 23, who was strangled after she went out to celebrate her end-of-term exams at a Mayfair nightclub in 2008, as billionaire playboy Farouk Abdulhak, who was caught on CCTV leaving the nightclub with her, fled to Yemen in the hours after she disappeared and has since refused to return to the UK. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 13, 2019. See PA story POLICE Norweigian. Photo credit should read: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Police have praised the determination shown by the family of Martine Vik Magnussen who was murdered in March 2008 (Picture: Met Police)

Mr Magnussen said: ‘The suspect is residing for the thirteenth year in a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen. The rape and murder of a woman is the most serious crime known to humanity and we know the Houthi’s ideological and legal platform is justice and anti-corruption.

‘It’s very, very strange that they have not delivered on this platform and the only way is the old notion of “money talks”.

‘It’s a classic example of wealth putting somebody beyond the law, it’s an issue much bigger than my family’s struggle for justice.

‘My struggle has been trying to motivate all good sources, powers, people, races or what have you to see the need to reinforce that fundamental value and react to that injustice that dominates this case. All we want to see as a family is that he returns to the UK.

‘Then we will have provided the fundamental justice for Martine that we think is absolutely necessary in this case. And we will get there.’

Ms Magnussen had been celebrating end of term exams with friends at the Maddox nightclub in Mayfair before catching a taxi with Abdulhak at around 2am on March 14, 2008.

The Metropolitan Police launched an investigation after her friends reported her missing the following day.

On March 16, officers making enquiries visited the residential block in Great Portland Street where Abdulhak lived and discovered her body in the padlocked basement. Attempts had been made to conceal her beneath the rubble.

A post-mortem examination gave her cause of death as compression to the neck and she was found to have been raped. A verdict of unlawful killing was recorded at Westminster Coroner’s Court on November 24, 2010.

Undated handout file photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Farouk Abdulhak, who is suspected of killing Norwegian student Martine Vik Magnussen in 2008 after he was caught on CCTV leaving a nightclub with her, and fled to Yemen in the hours after she disappeared and has since refused to return to the UK. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 13, 2019. See PA story POLICE Norweigian. Photo credit should read: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Farouk Abdulhak is believed to have travelled to Yemen within hours of the murder of Martine Vik Magnussen in 2008 (Picture: Met Police)

Early on in the case, there were signs that Abdulhak was willing to mediate with the family’s lawyer, Patrick Lundevall-Unger, and potentially return to the UK.

‘There was a link set up to mediate but it has been absolutely impossible to re-establish that,’ Mr Magnussen said.

‘That has happened over the years, three or four times, we get very close and then the suspect withdraws, he gets cold feet or whatever and we are back to square one again. It’s very frustrating.

‘Now we hope he will use the thirteenth anniversary to do the only decent thing by returning to the UK.’

Ms Magnussen, who excelled in business studies at the private Regent’s Business School in Regent’s Park, also leaves behind her mother, Kristin, brother Magnus and sister Mathilde.

Odd Petter Magnussen believes his family will secure justice for his daughter despite the suspect refusing to return to the UK (Picture: PA)

‘Martine was a rather normal, ordinary girl in many ways, but she had tremendous social skills which made her different from most people,’ Mr Magnussen said.

‘She had a kind, positive, heuristic approach to life and was pre-occupied with other people’s wellbeing. Those human qualities were apparent to anybody she met.

‘At least indirectly speaking, these human qualities may have killed her.’

Mr Magnussen, who lives on the outskirts of Oslo, believes a conviction in the high-profile case would send a powerful message that fugitives cannot hide in other jurisdictions indefinitely.

The family’s effort to keep the case in the spotlight has included setting up The Martine Foundation for Justice and an active social media campaign which has targeted audiences in Yemen.

Martine Vik Magnussen was remembered as a kind and positive person by her father (Picture: The Martine Foundation for Justice)
Martine climbing a Norwegian glacier during her summer vacation with family at the age of 13 (Picture: The Martine Foundation for Justice)

Mr Magnussen said: ‘If we solve a case which has international exposure and go round the lack of an extradition treaty, it will send a tremendous signal to the whole world and have implications for other kinds of serious crime, such as international drug dealing.

‘I can assure you, we will succeed in the end. We are making it clear to the suspect that he can run but he can’t hide.’

Abdulhak, who studied with Ms Magnussen at the school, is being sought by Scotland Yard and features on Interpol’s most wanted list.

The 34-year-old’s father, Shaher Abdulhak, has an extensive business portfolio including petroleum, property, soft drinks, sugar and tourism.

Despite having considerable wealth at his disposal, Mr Magnussen believes the only suspect’s room for manoeuvre is shrinking and he may yet be subject to a harsher form of justice within Yemen.

‘My fear is that with the tremendous support we have in Yemen and beyond some people might find this religiously provoking and he will have to look over his shoulder on a larger and larger scale,’ he said.

‘Someone might take this into their own hands in a brutal way.

‘That will deprive me of an ethical solution which has been my prerogative all the way, because I want to give that back to Martine, to have her memory give something valuable to international society. ‘

Appealing directly to Abdulhak, Mr Magnussen said: ‘Have some dignity and show some respect for my family and Martine by going back to the UK to tell the police what happened to her.

‘The alternative is less freedom, less quality of life and the possibility of someone securing justice in a much more brutal way.’

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Mr Magnussen spoke the day after the Met re-iterated its appeal, with the detective leading the murder investigation calling on Abdulhak to return to the UK to face justice.

Detective Inspector James Howarth said: ‘In the past 13 years, Martine’s family and the Met have kept this investigation in the public’s thoughts, raising it again and again.

‘I would like to make it clear to Farouk Abdulhak that this matter is not going to go away.

‘My team and I will continue to seek justice and use all opportunities available to pursue him and bring him back to the UK. His status as a wanted man will remain and I will not cease in my efforts to get justice for Martine’s family.’

Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact josh.layton@metro.co.uk

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