x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Death row Indians' settlement postponed another month

Representatives for both sides continue to disagree on how much the settlement should be.

SHARJAH // The families of 17 Indians on death row for murder and the family of the victim have another month to arrive at a blood money settlement, an appeals court ruled this morning.

It is the latest in about a half-dozen such postponements of a verdict at the Sharjah Court of Appeal.

Representatives of the condemned men and the family of the dead labourer, Misri Nazir Khan, who was murdered in a bootlegging turf war in Sharjah's Al Saha'a labour camp in 2009, have sparred repeatedly in court.

Judge Yousif al Shamsi of the Sharjah Court of Appeal yesterday questioned Mohammed Ramzan, the victim's family's representative, about whether a settlement had been reached.

Mr Ramzan said the family was not interested anymore in a settlement and want to uphold their right for Qasas, which means waiving blood money rights in favour of execution.

"At one point we were offered Dh5.5 million, and after the last hearing they offered Dh400,000. We do not want to waste any more time," he said in explaining the family's stance.

Judge al Shamsi asked the defence team whether they had an offer to make, and Mohammed Salman, who is representing the defendants, said they had Dh400,000 on the table.

"We have Dh400,000, and that is our final offer, your honor. We request an adjournment to discuss the offer," he said.

Mr Ramzan asked the court to go ahead with the case and issue a verdict.

Judge al Shamsi, however, ordered a 34-day adjournment and again asked the two parties to reach a compromise.

The Dh5.5m offer was made by Indian social welfare organisation Sikhs for Justice Charity Trust but has since stalled.

The Dh400,000 offer is financed by the Indian hotelier and philanthropist SP Oberoi Singh.

Baljeet Singh of Sikhs for Justice had told The National that the Dh5.5m offer fell through because the Indian consulate had not provided the proper documents.

"We presented Mr Ramzan with the offer after the last court hearing, and we are doing the payment out of our own accord, however we were not granted access to the men to provide us with a power of attorney letter to complete the transaction," he said. "The consulate did not help us nor did the defence team representing them."

A source at the Indian consulate denied it had done anything to stand in the way of a settlement.

Mr Oberoi was not present in court this morning.

The court will reconvene on July 20.