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Nepalese family's five-month wait for son to be freed from UAE jail

Embassy says authorities are working to free Durga Sunar, who was pardoned by his victim's family after they received Dh42,300.

A family is waiting for their son to be released and deported from a Sharjah jail five months after they paid Dh42,300 in blood money.

Durga Sunar, 30, was sentenced to death for murdering compatriot Ganesh Basnet, 25, in 2009. Both were working in Sharjah illegally.

Sunar's family are now waiting anxiously for his return.

"We raised the money with great difficulty," said his uncle, Krishna Bahadur, from Kathmandu.

He said Sunar's mother, Man Kumari Sunar, who had appealed to her government to save her son from the death penalty, was counting the days until she saw him.

"She is very old. She is now just waiting to see Durga," said Mr Bahadur. "She works as a helper in people's houses to make a living and is anxious to see him after so long."

Because both families are so poor, the victim's relatives asked for significantly less than the Dh200,000 in blood money usually awarded by the courts.

They initially wanted Dh84,500 but when this smaller amount still proved too great, the Basnet family agreed to accept just a million rupees, or Dh42,300. Mrs Sunar petitioned Nepal's foreign ministry last August to help raise the funds. Since both men were from Nepal, their country's government stepped in to help, opening a bank account and donating Dh4,225.

The Sunar family also appealed to the overseas Nepalese community for further funds.

"We raised the money through the internet from the Nepalese community in Australia, Singapore, UK and Hong Kong," said Mr Bahadur.

After Sunar's family paid the money last year, Mr Basnet's relatives gave a pardon letter.

"They agreed to the pardon because they felt they had already lost their son and at least ours should live," Mr Bahadur said.

The Nepalese Embassy in Abu Dhabi said it had submitted the letter to the Government.

"We have delivered the required documents to the UAE Foreign Ministry," said Lok BP Chhetri, first secretary at the mission. "We are following up with the concerned authorities.

"Murder is a serious offence and his release will take some time. It is a domestic judicial matter and depends on the UAE's procedures. By end of next week we will be able to know if the case has been taken up and where it is at. We are in touch with Durga Sunar."

The embassy did not know how Mr Basnet was killed or when the death sentence was handed down.

It was notified by UAE authorities in March 2010 but it took time for the Nepalese government to track the two families down.

"The case was complicated because both men were not legally working in the UAE," said Mr Chhetri. "We are actively involved in the case and hope to get a confirmation from Kathmandu in a couple of weeks."

The embassy said it would pay for the repatriation of Sunar.

"We will arrange for him to return home," a spokesman said. "But the important thing is for him to be freed."

Mr Basnet's family yesterday said they hoped Sunar would be released quickly.

"I hope he can be freed soon by the UAE Government so he can return to his family," said Bhakta Khanda, the victim's cousin. "We agreed to the one million rupees since Durga's family wasn't capable of paying more.

"We convinced his parents to accept whatever they could get. Now the family is able to make ends meet with the blood money since Ganesh was the only earning member."

pkannan@thenational.ae

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