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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Jack Hardy

Playboy son of billionaire admits involvement in death of student found raped and strangled

Metropolitan Police handout photo of Martine Vik Magnussen

The son of a Yemeni billionaire has admitted involvement in the death of a Norwegian student found raped and strangled in Mayfair, London, but will not return to the UK to face justice.

Martine Vik Magnussen (23) was found dead in 2008 under rubble in the basement of a block of flats where her university friend, Farouk Abdulhak, was living at the time.

Police believed she had been raped and murdered, but the only suspect in the case – Mr Abdulhak – left the UK for Yemen before her body was discovered. He has never returned.

Now, more than 15 years after the killing, Mr Abdulhak has spoken for the first time and claimed to the BBC that Ms Vik Magnussen’s death was the result of a “sex accident gone wrong”.

The two were students at Regent’s Business School in central London and part of the same young international social set. A post-mortem examination found Ms Vik Magnussen died from “compression to the neck” and her body had 43 cuts and grazes that were said to be typical of an assault or struggle.

In text messages exchanged with a BBC reporter investigating the case, Mr Abdulhak, who was 21 at the time of the death, wrote: “I deeply regret the unfortunate accident that happened. I regret coming [to Yemen]. Should have stayed and paid the piper.”

It’s too cold. I don’t like the weather... I don’t think justice will be served

Asked for clarity about the circumstances of Ms Vik Magnussen’s death, Mr Abdulhak said: “It was just an accident. Nothing nefarious... just a sex accident gone wrong.”

He went on to tell the reporter he was unable to recollect exact details of the incident because of his cocaine use that night: “No one knows because I could barely piece together what happened.”

On the night in question, Ms Vik Magnussen had been celebrating her end-of-term exams with friends and left the Maddox nightclub in Mayfair with Mr Abdulhak at around 3am. Mr Abdulhak flew out of Britain the following day, around 24 hours before Ms Vik Magnussen’s semi-naked body was discovered.

The UK does not have an extradition treaty with Yemen.

Mr Abdulhak is the son of Shaher Abdulhak, who ran a business empire that spanned the Middle East and was the richest man in Yemen at the time, counting the then president Abdullah Saleh among his close friends.

Speaking to the BBC reporter by phone, Farouk Abdulhak said he was not prepared to return to the UK, adding: “It’s too cold. I don’t like the weather... I don’t think justice will be served. I find that they will want to make an example of me being a son of an Arab, being... a son of someone rich.”

In response to Mr Abdulhak’s comments, Ms Vik Magnussen’s father, Odd Petter Magnussen, told the BBC: “[Mr Abdulhak] tries to portray it as a mutual, sort of, accidental outcome of a sex act. It’s definitely been a sex act, but it has been forced on Martine, as far as I can understand.”

The BBC also spoke to Mustafa Norman, a close friend of Mr Abdulhak’s father, who revealed that the former Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, met the student when he left the UK. “Ali Abdullah Saleh wanted to reassure him that nothing would happen to him,” he said.

A one-off extradition request was turned down in 2009.

The investigation was broadcast in a documentary called This World: Murder in Mayfair on BBC Two. 

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