x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

17 death row Indians to be freed within days

Men originally sentenced to death over bootlegging murder of Pakistani will now be released within 10 days, following a ruling by the Sharjah Court of Appeal.

Seventeen Indian men originally sentenced to death for the murder of a Pakistani man over a bootlegging dispute are expected to be released from jail within days after a ruling today by the Sharjah Court of Appeal.

The court reduced their sentence from death to two years in prison followed by deportation. Because the men have already served almost three years in jail, they are likely to be released within 10 days, according to their lawyer, Abdullah Salman.

The prisoners greeted the news with delight, waving to friends and family who had gathered in the courtroom to hear the judgment.

Today’s ruling follows a blood money settlement of almost Dh3.4m, paid by philanthropist SP Singh and other donors, to the family of the victim, Misri Nazir Khan, in July.

Mr Khan was beaten to death in the Saaja Industrial Area of Sharjah in January 2009, in a fight over alcohol bootlegging. The men were found guilty in March 2010 of beating Mr Khan to death.

Today’s verdict was announced by the presiding judge Abdullah Yousuf Al Shamsi, in the presence of the general prosecutor Anwar Al Harmoudi.

During a hearing in July, the defence had asked that the death penalty be dropped and that the court consider the time the defendants had already spent in prison as enough punishment.

The court received an official waiver from the family relinquishing Al Qasas rights – a Shariah provision that allows the relatives of murder victims to demand the death penalty, which they can waive by forgiving those convicted of the crime. The latter option is often exercised in exchange for blood money.

The payment of Dh3.4m to the family replaced a Dh442,000 diyyah offer that the family had previously rejected. The family accepted the Dh3.4m offer in July.

pkannan@thenational.ae
salamir@thenational.ae