The element of Sharia that requires the murder victim's blood relatives to be consulted follows the Quranic verse: "Who so is slain wrongfully, We have given power unto his heir."
Under UAE law a court's verdict of guilty or not guilty can only be returned at the same time as a sentence is issued - and in order for a sentence to be issued, blood relatives must be consulted.
Relatives have three options - they can demand the death sentence, waive their right to the death sentence and ask for blood money instead, or pardon the killer altogether.
If the accused person is then found guilty, sentencing has two aspects - both Sharia, decided by the family, and Criminal, decided by the judge.
Thus a killer who receives a complete pardon from the family will still be sentenced to three years in jail for the criminal aspect of his actions.
At the other end of the scale, a killer who is sentenced to death on the family's wishes will often also receive a jail term from the court, even though the death penalty makes such a sentence practically irrelevant.
Judges may also choose more lenient jail terms for killers if the family demands blood money.
* Haneen Dajani