ABU DHABI // Three men who were found guilty of burning their Pakistani driver to death have been released from Al Wathba Prison after an appeals court reduced their three-year sentence to one year, which was in fact time served. The men, two Emirati brothers and their Russian friend, settled with the family of the Pakistani driver, Mohammed Hassan, through the Islamic Sharia system known as "diyaa", or blood money.
In November, the Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced the men to three years in prison each after the family of the two Emirati men paid a Dh5 million (US$1.4m) settlement, which included a Dh200,000 blood-money payment, to Mr Hassan's family. OA and SA, both 19, and their 18-year-old friend VB, were involved in an argument with the Pakistani man, 35, who had worked for the Emirati family as a driver.
According to court documents, the incident took place in January 2009 at the home of the two Emirati men. Mr Hassan was hit on the head with a block of wood, knocking him unconscious. The cause of the argument was not revealed. The three men then poured petrol over the victim and burnt him to death. The police discovered his remains after he was reported missing. The three men were arrested, charged with premeditated murder and denied bail. They pleaded guilty and asked to settle with the victim's family through diyaa. The Al Otaiba law firm, representing the men, appointed a negotiator to deal with Mr Hassan's family through the UAE Embassy in Pakistan. The immediate family of the victim, all in Pakistan, did not attend any of the hearings.
The Criminal Court spared the men the death penalty and instead sentenced them to three years in prison. They appealed the sentence and on Thursday the appeals court reduced the sentence to one year. The men were then released due to time already served. According to the law, a person found guilty of an offence, including murder, may settle through blood money if the victim's family accepts. The offender could also be subject to imprisonment ranging from one to three years.