x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Men who burnt driver to death are released from prison

Three men who were found guilty of burning their driver to death are released from Al Wathba prison after paying blood money.

ABU DHABI // Three men who were found guilty of burning their driver to death were released from Al Wathba prison after an appeals court reduced their three-year sentence to one year, which was in fact time served. The men, two Emirati brothers and their Russian friend, settled with the family of the Pakistani driver, Mohammed Hassan, through the Islamic Sharia system known as diyaa, or blood money. In November, the Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced the trio to three years in prison after the family of the two Emirati men paid a Dh5 million (US$1.4m) settlement, which included a Dh200,000 blood money payment, to Mr Hassan's family. OA and SA, both 19, and their 18-year-old friend VB, were involved in a conflict with the Pakistani man, 35, who had worked for the Emirati family as a driver. According to previous court sessions, the incident took place in January 2009 at the home of the two Emirati men. Mr Hassan was hit on the head with a block of wood, knocking him unconscious. The reason for the conflict is not known. According to court records, the three men poured petrol over the victim and burnt him to death. The police discovered his remains after he was reported missing. The remains were submitted to the coroner's office in a black rubbish bag. The three men were arrested and charged with premeditated murder and denied bail. They pleaded guilty and asked for the court to settle with the victim's family through diyaa. The Al Otaiba law firm, representing the men, appointed a negotiator to deal with Mr Hassan's family through the UAE Embassy in Pakistan. The immediate family of the victim, all in Pakistan, did not attend any of the hearings. The Criminal Court spared the men the death penalty and instead sentenced them to three years in prison. They appealed the sentence and on Thursday the appeals court reduced the sentence to one year. The men were then released as the sentence counted towards the time they had already served. According to the law, a person found guilty of an offence, including murder, may settle through blood money if the victim's family accepts. The offender could also be subject to imprisonment ranging from one to three years. Until 2004, the imprisonment sentence ranged from three to seven years. This is a common legal practice in most Muslim countries where Sharia law is the foundation of the justice system. If the victim's family accepts the settlement, the court lessens the sentence. The victim's family could not be reached for comment yesterday. The public prosecution has 30 days to appeal the verdict to the final Court of Cassation, which reviews matters of law and not evidence. myoussef@thenational.ae