A billionaire’s playboy son who fled the UK in his father’s private jet hours after allegedly murdering a star Norwegian student in London 15 years ago has told a BBC documentary her death was a ‘sex accident’ as he spoke in person for the first time.
Farouk Abdulhak, 35, remains holed up in Yemen and has refused to come back to the UK where he is accused of the rape and murder of 23-year-old Martine Vik Magnussen after a 2008 night out at the Maddox nightclub in Mayfair.
In his first ever media interview, he gloated that he wouldn’t be returning to Britain to face trial ‘because I don’t like the weather’ and claimed the justice system would discriminate against him because he was ‘the son of a rich Arab’.
The 35-year-old, whose father Shaher Abdulhak was one of Yemen’s wealthiest and most powerful men, has only ever spoken through his lawyer to deny being guilty of murder.
But he was tracked down by Nawal Al-Maghafi for BBC investigation Murder in Mayfair, with the journalist exchanging a flurry of texts with Abdulhak before also speaking to him on the phone.
Farouk Abdulhak, 35, remains holed up in Yemen and has refused to come back to the UK
He is accused of the rape and murder of 23-year-old Martine Vik Magnussen after a 2008 night out at the Maddox nightclub in Mayfair
Ms Magnussen was found dead among rubble in a basement in Great Portland Street, Westminster, after a night out with friends to celebrate coming top of the class in her exams.
CCTV showed her leaving exclusive Mayfair nightclub Maddox at 2am on March 14 with Abdulhak, a fellow student at the £10,000 a year Regent’s Business School who she had previously dated.
The alleged murder – nicknamed ‘DP’ by friends for his love of Dom Perignon champagne – was named as being wanted by police and fled the UK within hours of her death.
Police said she had been strangled and raped. Last year they arrested a woman in her 60s on suspicion of assisting an offender but have since released her under investigation.
Ms Magnussen’s father, Odd Petter Magnussen, has branded Abdulhak a coward and personally appealed for him to return, adding, ‘You cannot hide forever’.
Speaking to the BBC, he said he was ‘furious’ at his suggestion that Ms Magnussen died in a consensual sex act.
‘He tried to portray it as a mutual accidental outcome of a sex act. It was definitely a sex act, but it was forced on Martine – as I can understand through the information I’ve gathered over the years,’ he said.
Abdulhak is now living in Yemen and working in cryptocurrency.
He was tracked down by journalist Nawal Al-Maghafi for BBC documentary Murder in Mayfair, with the pair exchanging a flurry of texts
Abdulhak claimed the night of Ms Magnussen’s death was ‘a blur’ but then said he has ‘flashbacks’
When the journalist asked Abdulhak if he had any regrets, he said: ‘I deeply regret the unfortunate accident that happened
BBC journalist Nawal Al-Maghafi, who has friends and relatives in Yemen, found a mobile number for the fugitive before messaging him on social media.
When she asked Abdulhak if he had any regrets, he said: ‘I deeply regret the unfortunate accident that happened.
‘I regret coming here [Yemen]. Should have stayed and paid the piper.’
He claimed not to remember the night of Ms Magnussen’s death, saying it was ‘all a blur’, but said he has flashbacks and feels ‘uncomfortable ‘every time I smell a certain female perfume’.
He said that her death ‘just a sex accident gone wrong’, adding: ‘No one knows because I could barely piece together what happened’.
Abdulhak said he had taken cocaine on the night and ‘couldn’t remember’ why he moved Ms Magnussen’s body.
Ms Al-Maghafi later spoke to the fugitive on the phone and asked him if he wanted to help the student’s family ‘get answers’.
He said: ‘I don’t know what answers they want to get. Nothing is going to bring their daughter back. There’s nothing that’s going to change what happened.’
The fugitive said he was ‘legally f****d’. Asked why he had moved Ms Magnussen’s body, he said ‘I don’t remember’
Ms Magnussen was born in Asker, Norway. Her father worked within sales and marketing in the IT industry and also ran a small family business that produced ski sledges
CCTV footage issued by the Met Police shows Ms Magnussen leaving Maddox with Abdulhak hours before she was killed
Asked whether he would consider coming back, he replied glibly: ‘Perhaps. It’s too cold there, I don’t like the weather.
‘I don’t think justice will be served. I find that the criminal justice system there is heavily biased.
‘I think they will want to make an example of me, being the son of an Arab. Being a rich son…’
When asked if he would speak to Ms Magnussen’s father, Odd Petter, he said: ‘I don’t know. I don’t even know if I could talk to him. It would be too hard for me.’
He added: ‘It’s been 14 years. What’s another year or two. I don’t really care. I don’t want to talk about this. Move on please. It’s making me feel uncomfortable.’
When it was pointed out to him that Ms Magnussen’s murder had ‘taken over’ her father’s life, he replied ‘that’s his choice’ and said he ‘doesn’t think about’ what happened.
The alleged murder’s father, Shaher Abdulhak, was known as the ‘King of Sugar’, with a net worth of around £6.8billion and close contacts in the Yemeni government.
Abdulhak allegedly fled the UK on his father’s private jet within hours of Ms Magnussen’s murder. He remains wanted by police
Abdulhak (left) studied international business relations alongside Ms Magnussen at Regent’s Business School, where fees start at around £10,000 a year. Her body was found in the basement of a block of flats where he lived
Abdulhak (left) was born in Yemen but spent most of his early life in the UK. He is the son of one of Yemen’s wealthiest men, Shaher Adbulhak (right), who is known as the ‘King of Sugar’
Ms Magnussen’s father, Odd Petter Magnussen, (left), with Norwegian rector Torbjorn Holt (middle) and head of Martin Foundation Patrick Lundevall-Unger during a 2018 on Great Portland Street, where her body was discovered
He previously had investments in Coca-Cola bottling plants but gave these up in 2012 following pressure from campaigners.
He died in Germany in 2020 while receiving treatment for an illness.
Last year, a documentary of Discovery+ revealed that Abdulhak mostly lives at home under guard and has few friends.
The programme also featured the first up-to-date picture of him to be published since Ms Magnussen’s death.
They said: ‘Farouk’s entire life is staying at home. There is no socialising. There is no going to public places.
‘As a close family member, I’ve known Farouk his entire life and I talk to him almost every day. Nobody comes there. He doesn’t really have any friends.
‘He’s got, I think, like one guard, sometimes two. That’s basically his friends.
‘Everything is brought into the house. Delivered or picked up. But he’s got a patio. It’s mostly just a place to get a little bit of sun and air.
‘Other than that, he’s got his computer and his movies. He spends his life on the internet.’
- This World: Murder in Mayfair, BBC Two, Tuesday March 28 21:00 BST. Also available on BBC iPlayer, 06:00 BST and BBC Arabic TV, 20:05 BST Tuesday 28 March
- The BBC World Service podcast, The Documentary, will be telling the story in a four-part series. The Documentary: Murder in Mayfair will air on BBC World Service from Wednesday 19 April. All episodes will be available on 24 April on BBC Sounds and other podcast platforms.
Timeline of Martine Vik Magnussen’s murder and her devastated family’s fight for justice
March 14, 2008 – Student is seen leaving exclusive Mayfair nightclub Maddox with her fellow Regent’s Business School student Farouk Abdulhak at 2am.
15 – Police launch an investigation after friends report her missing.
16 – Abdulhak flees the UK, allegedly on his father’s private jet. On the same day, officers making enquiries to trace Ms Magnussen visited the residential block where Abdulhak lived on Great Portland Street in Westminster, where they discovered her body at about 10.30am.
24 – Abdulhak, now abroad having been named as being wanted for questioning, breaks his silence to insist – through his lawyer – ‘I’m not a murderer’.
June 10, 2010 – Her father, Odd Petter Magnussen, plants a tree in his daughter’s memory at a remembrance event at Regent’s College.
November 24 – An inquest at Westminster Coroner’s Court concludes Ms Magnussen was strangled and records a verdict of unlawful killing.
2010 (exact date unclear) – Mr Magnussen writes to the Queen as part of his continued campaign to secure Abdulhak’s return to the UK.
The Queen, in a letter written by a private secretary, replies: ‘Her Majesty was deeply sorry to read of the terrible loss that you and your family have suffered, and the continuing distress caused by the fact that your daughter’s killer remains at liberty. She has asked me to convey her sincere condolences to you and your family.’
Ministers are unable to secure Abdulhak’s extradition from Yemen, which does not have an extradition treaty with the UK.
2017 – Tobias Ellwood MP takes up the case during his time as Minister for the Middle East and Africa, telling Mr Magnussen the government has an ‘unwavering commitment’ to achieving justice.
March 8, 2022 – Police reveal they have arrested a woman in her 60s on suspicion of assisting an offender, calling it a ‘significant development’. She has been released under investigation.
November – A Discovery+ programme reveals the first up-to-date photo of Abdulhak to be taken since Ms Magnussen’s death.