x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Bootleg turf war killers begin death sentence appeal

Seventeen Indian men sentenced to death for killing a Pakistani in a struggle over an illegal business are to begin their appeal in Sharjah.

Relatives hold photographs of the defendants during a rally in New Delhi last month to urge the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, to help their campaign to release the men.
Relatives hold photographs of the defendants during a rally in New Delhi last month to urge the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, to help their campaign to release the men.

Seventeen Indian men sentenced to death for killing a Pakistani man in a turf war over a bootlegging business are to begin their appeal in Sharjah today. The men were found guilty by Sharjah Criminal Court in March of beating their victim to death in the Sajja industrial area in a fight in January 2009. Police said that the Pakistani had been beaten on the head with a metal rod. Three other Pakistanis were injured in the attack. Fifty men were initially arrested.

According to federal law, any case in which a person faces the death sentence, regardless of the plea entered, must be heard by all levels of the judiciary. The final judicial authority rests with the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi. The Ministry of Justice is, by law, required to appoint a defence lawyer for the men, who will work alongside their own lawyers. If the death sentence is upheld by the appeal court and the federal court, the signatures of the Ruler of Sharjah and the President of the UAE are required before an execution can take place.

At each stage, the courts will seek to settle the case through diyaa - blood money. If the family of the victim accepts the financial compensation, the death sentence will be revoked. Compensation is set by law at Dh200,000 (US$54,000), but victims' families often demand a larger settlement to pardon the killer. Ansar Burney, a former federal Pakistani minister who is now a human-rights activist based in Britain, has offered to negotiate with the victim's family about the diyaa. He has also agreed to pay the money on behalf of the accused men.

Mr Burney, the chairman of the Ansar Burney Trust, said he would raise funds by asking for donations from Britain and Pakistan. He said the trust was willing to pay a "little bit more" than the standard amount, depending on the family's demands. The last execution in the country was reported to have taken place in 2008. @Email:myoussef@thenational.ae