x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

17 former death row Indians deny alcohol charge

Sharjah Court of Appeal is reviewing bootlegging charge against 17 Indians found guilty of killing a man in a brawl.

DUBAI // Seventeen men who were spared the death penalty after being convicted of murder last year yesterday denied a further charge of possessing and selling alcohol.

In the latest hearing of a case that has included several dramatic twists, the Sharjah Court of Appeal has been ordered to review the charge against the Indian men after the Federal Supreme Court transferred the matter there last week.

“There is no proof that they had alcohol with them or tried selling it,” Mohammed Salman, the lawyer appointed by the Indian government to defend the men, told the court.

The men were found guilty of killing a man during a brawl in Sharjah in 2009 – a brawl prosecutors claimed was part of a bootlegging turf war – but were spared the death sentence after paying Dh3.4 million in blood money to the victim’s family last year. In September, the appeal court ordered their deportation and commuted their sentences to two years. But prosecutors appealed against the verdict at the Federal Supreme Court, urging it to take into account injuries sustained by three men during the brawl and the alcohol charges. A final verdict is expected on February 1.

In a separate civil case, two of the three men who claim they were hurt in the brawl have filed a Dh1.5 million compensation suit at the Sharjah Court of First Instance.  The civil case has been adjourned.

pkannan@thenational.ae