The saga continues. The case of 17 Indians, who were sentenced to death for murder but then paid blood money, will remain in prison pending another case filed by another family member of the victim.
The story began in January 2009, when the 17 men were arrested for beating a man to death and wounding three others in a fight in Sharjah. They were sentenced to death in March 2010, but the victim's family later accepted blood money and the convicts were scheduled to be released. The 17 men were able to pay the blood money, or diyyah, after receiving donations from businessmen.
But the case took a new twist, as The National reported last week, when the victim's brother filed a complaint saying he had been seriously injured in the brawl. The case is still with the reconciliation committee and could be resolved there. If the two sides do not reach a solution and the complainant wishes to press charges, new proceedings will begin.
The case can go through up to five panels of judges (from the court of first instance, to the appeals court, then to the supreme court, back to the appeals court and then again to the supreme court for a final verdict). Blood money for injuries are also less straightforward than death cases, in which blood money compensation is preset.
Regardless of the merit of the new claims, there is no legal rationale to keep these men in jail. The claimant should bear part of the blame for failing to present his case earlier when the judges were examining the case.
The details of the case have been exhaustively detailed, and judges have issued their verdict. New claims should be examined, but that shouldn't mean the men must remain in jail. After all, the point of the blood money is to settle disputes peacefully and swiftly.
Sharia requires payment of blood money be made within three years. The case has been in courts for more than three years.
The case also underlines a need to review the system of blood money to suit modern life and offer guidelines to prevent abuse of the system. The Sharia system of compensating victims is, in this case, being handled in a way that contradicts the Sharia's original purpose.