x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Blood money deal made in murder trial

Verdict on Sunday for 10 men accused of killing Pakistani labourer in drunken brawl.

DUBAI // The family of a Pakistani man killed during a drunken brawl have accepted Dh260,000 in blood money to waive their right to seek the death penalty for eight Indian men and two Pakistanis on trial at a Sharjah court.

The murder occurred in July 2009 and involved 10 alleged alcohol bootleggers who allegedly killed a 22-year-old Pakistani labourer Mumtaz Yousif in a drunken fight, according to court records.

The men, aged between 18 and 27, were arrested and charged with murder and illegally trading in alcohol by Sharjah Public Prosecution.

The men denied the charges when they appeared before Judge Abul Majd al Sharqawi at the Sharjah Criminal Court of First Instance.

The deal was reached late last month between the family of the victim and Indian businessman and hotelier SP Singh Oberoi, the founder of the Indian Punjabi Society in Dubai, who mediated and helped finance the deal.

Mumtaz's father, Mohammed Yousif, was flown to Dubai and attended the court on Tuesday, where he gave his pardon to the 10 defendants. Mr Oberoi said the money was handed to Mr Yousif in court.

The court will reconvene on Sunday to issue its verdict.

According to the UAE penal code, crimes of murder, accidental death or grievous bodily harm can be resolved with diyya, or blood money payments.

In capital crimes, this right is referred to as al qasas, which gives the blood money heirs the right to seek capital punishment but revokes any claim to blood money if they do.

If the heirs drop their al qasas right by presenting a pardon, the court automatically reduces the sentence, depending on the gravity of the crime, once it confirms a blood money settlement.

"It took a lot of negotiations with the victim's family, but after we explained that this settlement could more be beneficial to them than to see the men executed, they agreed," Mr Oberoi said. "We understand that these men are criminals but we are here helping the community, the families of these defendants are very poor, they sometimes cannot afford to eat twice a day."

Mumtaz Yousif was the oldest of his seven brothers and sisters, according to his father.

"He came to Dubai when he was 19 and worked for three years at Intermass Engineering," Mr Yousif said. "I own a one-acre plot of land that I mortgaged to be able to send my son to work in Dubai.

"I heard no news for three years, but then one day I was contacted by the Pakistani Consulate in Dubai telling me that my son had died. I wanted his killers to die, but then when we were offered a settlement and we agreed, to help the rest of his brothers and sisters."