x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

17 former death row Indians now face more charges

The 17 Indian men who won a reprieve from death row after killing a man in an alcohol bootlegging brawl now face charges of bootlegging and injuring three other men.

SHARJAH // The Sharjah Court of Appeal resumed criminal proceedings today against 17 Indian men convicted of murder who had escaped the death penalty after paying blood money to the victim’s family. Prosecutors are now seeking more jail time for the men on charges of bootlegging, the illegal sale of alcohol and causing injuries to three other men during the brawl, according to the men’s lawyer.

The men were scheduled to be deported back to their home country last year before prosecutors argued that the guilty verdict for murder did not take into account the three men who were allegedly injured in the brawl. The guilty verdict, prosecutors argued, also did not take into account the bootlegging or alcohol consumption charges that had been filed against the convicted men.

Today’s proceedings by the Sharjah Court of Appeal followed a decision last week by the Federal Supreme Court to transfer the case back to the Sharjah Court.

“The case was transferred to the Sharjah court by the Federal Supreme Court on December 27,” said Mr Mohammed Salman, who was appointed by the Indian government to defend the men.

“The court will examine charges of bootlegging, sale of alcohol and claims of assaulting three Pakistani men,” Mr Salman said, adding that his firm has not yet received papers from the Supreme Court and prosecutors detailing the exact charges.

Lawyers for the men say they are not sure exactly what the additional charges are.

The 17 men were convicted of killing a Pakistani national in January 2009 in a bootlegging brawl in Sharjah. However, they escaped the death penalty last year after paying Dh3.4 million blood money to the dead man’s family. The court also commuted their sentences to two years, time they had already served.

But the men were not deported to their home country as scheduled after the Public Prosecution referred the Sharjah appeal court’s judgment to the Federal Supreme Court regarding the plight of the allegedly injured men. Last week, the Supreme Court transferred the criminal case back to the same court in Sharjah, directing the lower court to look into the lesser charges.

In a separate case, two of the three men who were allegedly injured in the brawl have filed a compensation suit at the Sharjah Court of First Instance, claiming Dh 1.5 million for injuries.

“We want to finish this case as early as possible,” Mr Salman said. The accused men were not at today’s hearing.

The next hearing will take place on January 11. It will be the final hearing for the defence to present its arguments against the criminal case. The civil case, however, has been adjourned to January 29.

pkannan@thenational.ae