SHARJAH // Seventeen Indians whose death sentences for killing a Pakistani man were overturned will not pay compensation to the victim's family for a crime they say they did not commit, their lawyers said yesterday.
"The men's families are arguing that paying the blood money would mean they accepted their guilt," said Mohammed Salman al Marzouqi, spokesman for the four lawyers on the defence team. "They don't want to accept guilt for a crime that they did not do."
"We have all decided that we are not paying any blood money," said Navikran Singh, the chairman of Lawyers for Human Rights International, an Indian organisation that has been active in the case.
"Our lawyers are capable of proving the innocence of their clients and that is exactly what we want to do."
“I know my brother is innocent and there is no point in paying the blood money,” said Arjinder Singh, a Dubai resident whose brother is one of the 17. “I want the court to find those who are guilty to pay, but not my brother.”
The men, 16 from Punjab and one from Haryana, were sentenced to death in March after being convicted of beating Misri Nazir Khan to death and injuring three others during a fight over bootleg alcohol in the Saaja industrial area of Sharjah in January 2009.
Police said about 50 people were arrested in connection with the incident, but after interrogations only 17 were charged.
At the Sharjah Court of Appeals last Thursday, Judge Abdullah Yousef al Shamsi criticised the lack of prosecution evidence. After the victim’s family agreed to accept financial compensation, the judge overturned the death sentences.
Representatives of the 17 men’s families met officials from the Indian Consulate General in Dubai yesterday and decided that they should pursue the case to the end, Mr al Marzouqi said. The defence team will submit a rejection of the financial settlement proposal to the court, and wait to hear from the judge as to how the case should proceed, he said.
The next hearing is scheduled for February 17.