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US judge grants new trial for ‘Serial’ murderer

A US judge on Thursday ordered a new trial for a man convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, whose case was turned into a global sensation by a hit podcast.

Adnan Syed, 35, the son of Pakistani immigrants, was sentenced to life imprisonment 16 years ago for the murder of Hae Min Lee in suburban Baltimore.

The case was largely ignored in the media until it was taken up by weekly podcast “Serial” and turned into a blockbuster when an American journalist revisited the story and cast doubt on Syed’s guilt.

Judge Martin Welch in Baltimore granted Syed’s request for a new trial in a court document issued Thursday. “We won a new trial for Adnan Syed,” tweeted his defense lawyer Justin Brown.

Maryland state prosecutors had fought against the move, insisting that Syed was given a fair defense and there was no need to reopen his case.

The podcast, a mix of investigative journalism, first-person narrative and dramatic storytelling, focused its first season entirely on Syed’s story in a nail-biting 12 episodes.

The show cast doubt on whether Syed received proper representation at trial and whether he had in fact murdered Lee.

At trial, prosecutors argued that Syed strangled Lee after school in the parking lot of a Best Buy electronics store, jealous that she was seeing another, older man after they broke up.

Both were honor students and children from immigrant families — Syed’s from Pakistan and Lee’s from South Korea — who had concealed their relationship from their conservative parents.

The show was downloaded more than 5 million times on the Apple iTunes store. It is also available at www.serialpodcast.org.

jm/bfm

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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