x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

17 former death row Indians held in prison by civil case

The 17 Indian men who have been released from death row for the murder of a Pakistani man are to remain in prison until a civil compensation case has been resolved.

DUBAI // The 17 Indian men who won a reprieve from death row this month in a murder case will not be released from prison until a related civil compensation case is settled, according to an Indian businessman who paid blood money to waive the men's death penalty.

The men were expected to be released from the Sharjah jail today after nearly three years in prison, following the completion of court procedures. A Sharjah court had commuted their sentence for the murder of a Pakistani man in a bootlegging brawl two years ago.

The death sentence was waived after the hotelier SP Singh and other donors paid Dh3.4 million in blood money to the family of the Pakistani victim, Misri Nazir Khan.

However, two other men who suffered injuries in the brawl have asked for compensation, thus delaying the release of the convicted, Mr Singh said.

"They have asked for compensation for injury to their hands, saying they cannot work since the injury," said Mr Singh, adding that a compensation amount had not been specified.

"Of course, the 17 men are disturbed because they thought they would see their family soon, but I have told them not to lose hope. Like we faced a huge sentence like the death penalty, we will also face this civil case."

No date has been set yet in the Sharjah civil court to hear the case filed by the two men, Mushtaq Ahmed and Shahid Iqbal.

Khan was beaten to death in an industrial area in Sharjah in January 2009 during a turf war over alcohol bootlegging. The 17 men were found guilty and were sentenced to death in March 2010 by the Sharjah Court of First Instance.

However, on September 12, the Sharjah Court of Appeal reduced the men's death sentence to two years in prison, less time than they already served, followed by deportation.

The ruling followed the blood money settlement paid by Mr Singh and other donors. It was one of the highest blood money payments in the Sharjah court's history.

rtalwar@thenational.ae