Martine Vik Magnussen: what happened to student, where is Farouk Abdulhak and what has he said?

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Farouk Abdulhak, son of Yemeni billionaire Shaher Abdulhak, has spoken to the BBC ahead of a new documentary about the death of Martine Vik Magnussen

BBC Two documentary Murder in Mayfair follows the 2008 killing of student Martine Vik Magnussen and her family’s fight for justice. The documentary follows BBC reporter Nawal Al-Maghafi as she hunts for answers in the murder case in which no-one has been brought to justice.

Al-Maghafi learns of how the immense wealth and power of the main suspect’s family enabled him to avoid answering to UK authorities over his alleged involvement in the crime. She also hears from Metropolitan police suspect Farouk Abdulhak after tracking him down through social media and open communication with him. For the first time, Farouk spoke to a journalist about Martine’s death. 

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What happened to Martine Vik Magnussen?

Martine Vik Magnussen was a 23 year old Norwegian student at Regent's Business School in London who went missing in the capital in the early hours of 14 March 2008. She was last seen leaving the exclusive Maddox nightclub in Mayfair with her fellow student Farouk Abdulha.

Nawal Al-Maghafi with Martine Vik Magnussen's father, Odd Petter MagnussenNawal Al-Maghafi with Martine Vik Magnussen's father, Odd Petter Magnussen
Nawal Al-Maghafi with Martine Vik Magnussen's father, Odd Petter Magnussen | BBC/Needtoknow Productions/Bard Gundersen

On 15 March Martine’s friends reported her missing to the police and on 16 March her body was found covered in rubble in the basement of a block of flats more than a mile from the Maddox club. She was found to have died by strangulation and to have been raped. A murder enquiry was launched by police which led them to their chief suspect - Farouk Abdulha.

Did Farouk Abdulhak kill Martine Vik Magnussen?

Farouk Abdulhak is the son of Yemeni businessman Shaher Abdulhak - Shaher has an estimated net worth of £6.8 billion and is connected with some powerful people in Yemen, including former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. During the investigation into Martine’s death police found flight records that show Farouk had flown from London to Cairo on 14 March, hours after Martine was last seen alive.

Farouk travelled onto Sanaa, Yemen, on his father’s private plane and once there reportedly sought legal assistance. Farouk lived in an apartment in the block where Martine’s body was found but he is believed to have been living in Yemen following his departure from London.

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He was named as a murder suspect by the Met in July 2008 - although the UK government has appealed to the government of Yemen to question Farouk about the crime, there is no extradition agreement between the two countries. Farouk remains the only suspect in the case and he remains on the Met’s most wanted list, though his lawyers maintain his innocence.

In March 2022, a woman in her 60s on suspicion of assisting in the murder of Martine.

Martine Vik Magnussen who was raped and murdered after leaving a Mayfair club in 2008. Credit: Met PoliceMartine Vik Magnussen who was raped and murdered after leaving a Mayfair club in 2008. Credit: Met Police
Martine Vik Magnussen who was raped and murdered after leaving a Mayfair club in 2008. Credit: Met Police | Met Police

What has Farouk Abdulhak said about Martine Vik Magnussen’s death?

BBC journalist Nawal Al-Maghafi, who is Yemeni, reached out to Farouk over social media and they began communicating over text message. Over the course of their text exchange, Farouk made several allusions to the night of Martine’s death. At one time he wrote, “I did something when I was younger, it was a mistake.”

In later exchanges with Al-Mahhafi, Farouk texted: “It was just an accident. Nothing nefarious. Just a sex accident gone wrong." He also suggested that cocaine was involved in the night of Martine’s death and said that if he returned to the UK he would be in serious legal trouble because he had fled, and Martine’s body had been moved.

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When Al-Mahhafi asked Farouk if he would return to the UK to face justice, he said: "I don't think justice will be served. I find that the criminal justice system there 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.”

Farouk had never lived in Yemen before he fled there in 2008 - his ex-wife and daughter now live outside the country. having fled during the civil war which began in 2014. However, Farouk now finds himself unable to leave the country as he is the subject of an international arrest warrant.

When is Murder in Mayfair on TV?

The one-hour documentary will air on BBC Two on Tuesday 28 March at 9pm - it is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.