x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

17 men taken off death row, but back in court

The 17 Indian men who were freed from death row after being convicted of murdering one man face a court appeal of the verdict and a new case demanding compensation for injuries suffered by two other men.

DUBAI // The 17 men reprieved last month from death row, where they had been sent for the killing of a man in a brawl over bootlegging, were back in court yesterday.

Two Pakistani men who claimed to have been injured in the same fight have filed a compensation claim against the Indian men, which was yesterday heard in the Sharjah reconciliation committee.

The committee heard that Mushtaq Ahmed and Shahid Iqbal were injured in the January 2009 fight that killed the Pakistani Misri Nazir Khan. The two want Dh1.5 million for their injuries.

"The committee asked the [Indian] men if they want to pay compensation," said SP Singh, a hotelier who, along with other donors, paid Dh3.4 million blood money to the family of the dead man to secure the Indian men's release.

But Mr Singh said after the meeting: "We do not want to give any compensation to them."

The committee will refer the case to Sharjah civil court if the two sides cannot reach an agreement.

Mr Ahmed has said his injuries make it difficult for him to work.

"I cannot work because my hand had to be operated on after the sword injury and now I cannot lift anything heavy," he said. "It has been difficult to support my family because I have not been able to earn. Compensation is our right."

The next hearing in the case has been set for October 18.

Khan was beaten to death in an industrial area in Sharjah during a turf war over alcohol bootlegging.

The 17 men were found guilty of his murder, and were sentenced to death in March last year by the Sharjah Court of First Instance.

But last month the Sharjah Appeal Court commuted the men's sentence to two years, which was less than they had already served.

The men were not released, however, because the Public Prosecution had referred the appeal court's judgment to the Federal Supreme Court.

The prosecution argued that the ruling had not taken into account the plight of the injured men.

"The court was silent about the two injured," said Bindu Suresh Chettur, the legal representative whom the Indian government appointed to represent the 17 convicted men.

"This has not been examined and … to rectify that error it has been sent to the apex court."

pkannan@thenational.ae