The son of a Yemeni billionaire has confessed to being involved in the 2008 death of a student in London, calling the grisly incident a “sex accident gone wrong.”
Farouk Abdulhak, son of the late tycoon Shaher Abdulhak, has been on the Metropolitan Police’s most wanted list since March 2008, when he fled London within days of the suspicious death of his Regent’s Business School classmate Martine Vik Magnussen, 23, the BBC reported.
In a recent string of text messages with BBC correspondent Nawal Al-Maghafi, Abdulhak – who has lived in isolation Yemen for 15 years –says that he “did something when [he] was younger it was a mistake.”
“I can’t specifically go to the UK for something that happened there,” he explained, though he admitted that he should have stayed in London and “paid the piper.”
Vik Magnussen, who was from Norway, was last seen by her friends leaving the Maddox nightclub in Mayfair, where a group of them, including Abdulhak, had been celebrating the end of exams.
Eager to keep the night going, Vik Magnussen and Abdulhak were captured on CCTV heading toward the latter’s Great Portland Street apartment at 2:59 a.m.
On March 16, Vik Magnussen’s partially nude body was found in the basement of Abdulhak’s building. She had been raped and had “‘compression to the neck’” indicating “‘she was strangled, held down or smothered,’” the BBC said.
Abdulhak immediately emerged as a suspect, but he had already taken a commercial flight to Cairo and absconded to Yemen on his father’s private jet.
In a later exchange, Abdulhak told Al-Maghafi that Vik Magnussen’s death was “nothing nefarious,” and dismissed it as a “sex accident gone wrong.”
One of Vik Magnussen’s friends, Thale Lassen, told the BBC that Abdulhak may have tried to kiss her at one point, but she rebuffed his advances, though she frequently stayed over at his apartment.
Two other pals, Nina Brantzeg and Cecilie Dahl, remember Abdulhak acting strangely at the Maddox that night.
In his conversations with Al-Maghafi, Abdulhak claimed the night of Vik Magnussen’s death was “all a blur” because he was on cocaine at the time.
He also confessed to moving Vik Magnussen’s body, but said he could not remember why.
Abdulhak’s drug use and allegedly troubled conscience was backed by those close to his well-connected family.
According to one anonymous friend of the family, Abdulhak showed up at their door in London in the early hours of March 14 asking for cash, saying he needed to get to Cairo immediately but his credit cards were not working.
While the friend was out getting the money, he told Al-Maghafi, Abdulhak fell asleep on the couch, and had to be woken up with ice water.
“It was as if he was on something,” they recalled.
Another family friend, Jordanian businessman Abdulhay Al Mejali, told Al-Maghafi that Abdulhak wanted to face trial in London, but was discouraged by his high-powered father.
“[Abdulhak] wanted to go to England and sit in court and defend himself,” Al Mejali said.
“But his father advised him not to get involved [and] stay in Yemen.”
Because the UK does not have an extradition treaty with Yemen, the BBC noted, it is unlikely that Abdulhak could ever be forced back to face justice.
When asked by Al-Maghafi if he would ever consider turning himself in, Abdulhak balked.
“I don’t think justice will be served,” he said.
“I find that the criminal justice system there [in the UK] is heavily biased. I find that they will want to make an example of me being a son of an Arab, being… a son of someone rich… it’s way too late.”
Abdulhak also dismissed Vik Magnussen’s family’s desire to know the truth.
“Some things are better left unsaid. The real fact is if I don’t remember what happened, there’s nothing really to say,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vik Magnussen and the Metropolitan Police remain hopeful that they will one day achieve closure.
“I’m optimistic we might have a solution in the longer term… because we can talk to him,” Vik Magnussen’s father, Odd Petter Magnussen, said of Abdulhak’s confession.
“He has no empathy, obviously, with our family, and he doesn’t show any sort of remorse or anything.”
In his statement, Magnussen urged Abdulhak to “go back to the UK” and “tell what happened” on March 14, 2008.
“Because not only Martine deserves that, but also our family [deserves it],” the grieving father insisted.
Magnussen compared the pain of losing his daughter and the long fight for justice as “very close, nearly physically, to [being] ripped apart.”
While Abdulhak remains elusive, the Metropolitan Police’s investigation continues to stutter forward. In March 2022, a woman in her 60s was arrested on suspicion of assisting in Vik Magnussen’s death.
Speaking to the BBC, however, the Met confirmed that Abdulhak remains “the only suspect” in the killing.
“We continue to do everything in our power to have him returned to the UK to stand trial,” the agency stated.