x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Blood money talks get another chance

But family of victim "just want revenge" against the 17 Indian men on death row for the murder of a labourer in a Sharjah camp over bootlegging.

SHARJAH // The families of 17 Indians on death row for murder and the family of the victim have another month to arrive at a blood money settlement, an appeals court ruled yesterday.

It is the latest of a half-dozen postponements of a verdict at the Sharjah Court of Appeal.

Representatives of the condemned men and the family of the dead labourer, Misri Nazir Khan, who was murdered in a bootlegging turf war in Sharjah's Al Saha'a labour camp in 2009, have sparred repeatedly in court.

Judge Yousif al Shamsi, of the Sharjah Court of Appeal, yesterday questioned Mohammed Ramzan, the representative of the victim's family, about whether a settlement had been reached.

Mr Ramzan said the family was no longer interested in a settlement and wanted execution.

"At one point we were offered Dh5.5 million, and after the last hearing they offered Dh400,000. We do not want to waste any more time," he said.

Judge al Shamsi asked the defence team whether they had an offer to make, and Mohammed Salman, who is representing the Indians, said they had Dh400,000 on the table.

"We have Dh400,000, and that is our final offer," he said.

Judge al Shamsi ordered a 34-day adjournment and asked the two parties to compromise.

"It's all just a drama," Mr Ramzan said after the hearing. "We don't want any more time, just revenge."

However, he did not discard the possibility of the dead man's family forgiving the 17 Indians if a financial settlement met their expectations.

The lawyers for the 17 Indians said they were willing to go through with the trial if no compromise were reached by the date set by the court.

"Our defence is strong," said Bindu Suresh Chettur, the legal representative. "We have been ready for a trial since the beginning. We are confident of winning the case."

She added that there were several misleading promises being made by different Indian parties to the dead man's family about a settlement, although she declined to offer specifics.

The Dh5.5m offer was made by the Indian social welfare organisation Sikhs for Justice Charity Trust, but has since stalled.

The Dh400,000 offer is financed by the Indian hotelier and philanthropist SP Oberoi Singh.

Baljeet Singh, of Sikhs for Justice, had earlier said that the Dh5.5m offer fell through because the Indian consulate had not provided the proper documents.

A source at the Indian consulate said it had not done anything to stand in the way of a settlement.

The court will reconvene on July 20.