(Washington) After the charges were dropped, an appeals court on Tuesday restored the conviction of an American who spent 23 years in prison for a murder of which he claims innocence, a case at the heart of the hit podcast Global Serial.
Adnan Syed, sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000 for the murder of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee in Baltimore, on the east coast of the United States, was released on bail in September 2022.
The Baltimore prosecutor then explained that she had doubts about the verdict having established his guilt since the discovery of “two alternative suspects”, and finally dropped all charges against Mr. Syed a month later.
But a Maryland state appeals court ruled that a procedural flaw had occurred and that the rights of the victim’s brother, Young Lee, who lives in California, had not been respected. According to this court, he would not have had the time necessary to attend the hearing in person.
As a result, the appeals court overturned the court’s decision to drop the charges against Mr. Syed, thereby restoring “his original conviction and sentence”.
The court ordered a rehearing to allow Mr. Lee to attend and demanded that “evidence supporting the request to drop charges be presented,” according to a court document.
The parties have 60 days to respond to this decision.
Police arrested Adnan Syed after finding the body of 18-year-old Hae Min Lee half-buried in a Baltimore woods in February 1999. He was sentenced to life in prison a year later.
According to the prosecution, he had not supported that she left him for another and had strangled her. He has always claimed his innocence, claiming to be the victim of anti-Muslim prejudice.
In 2014, a team of journalists conducted a counter-investigation, told in twelve episodes in the first season of Serial. A precursor to the era of podcasts, this radio drama has, according to its producers, been downloaded more than 300 million times. It also inspired an HBO documentary.