x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dh5.5m offered in blood money

The settlement was offered by an Indian charity after lawyers in the case failed to reach a settlement this morning.

SHARJAH // An Indian social welfare organisation says it formally presented a Dh5.5 million blood money settlement yesterday on behalf of 17 Indian men facing death row for the murder of a Pakistani man in January 2009.

The news came after a Sharjah court heard lawyers had failed to reach a blood money agreement within the two-month period decreed by court.

Baljeet Singh, from the Sikhs for Justice Charity Trust, said yesterday that a Dh5.5m offer was presented to the family of the victim, Misri Nazir Khan.

"We presented Mr Ramzan with the offer after the court hearing today and we will be doing the payment out of our own accord. We have met four times with the defence team and offered our backing but we have been turned away every time," he said.

The Sikhs for Justice Trust, based in the US and India, is currently raising the funds and plans to present the payment in court before the next hearing in two weeks.

The man appointed to negotiate a payment on behalf of the man's family, Mohammed Ramzan, said they would be willing to accept the amount offered by Sikhs for Justice. However, he added: "We don't have any written agreement and this amount has only been conveyed to us verbally."

The victim's family said they were aware of the offer and the court's proceedings. "We are willing to accept the blood money," said Sarfraz Ahmed, the brother of Khan, who was murdered in an alleged bootlegging turf war at Sharjah's Al Saja'a labour camp.

"I was told we are being offered [Dh5.5m]. However, the compensation amount has been only discussed verbally so far. I will discuss this further with the entire family and will convey our final decision to him," said Mr Ahmed, speaking from Pakistan.

"We have complete faith in the legal system of the UAE and believe we will get justice."

The offer follows a two-month adjournment ordered by Presiding Judge Yousif al Shamsi of the Sharjah Court of Appeals in February to allow lawyers time to reach a settlement.

However, Mr Ramzan said that he was approached for the first time by the defence on the eve of Thursday's hearing. He said he had been asked to sign a waiver without any settlement.

The document, claimed Mr Ramzan, stated no compensation was to be paid and that the victim's family absolved the defendants from any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Salman, the lawyer hired by the Indian Consulate to represent the defendants, told the court they had initiated communication but required more time to finalise the settlement terms.

"Your honour, we are still in the process [of reaching a settlement], but we would also like to request the presentation of our defence witnesses to court," he said.

Judge al Shamsi said those involved were free to pursue an out-of-court settlement, but added: "If you choose to continue with the case, the amount set by court legally is Dh200,000 and will only depend on the judgement issued, based on the facts presented."

The judge adjourned the hearing with a warning that without a compromise the case would proceed to judgment.

The court will reconvene on May 19.

amustafa@thenational.ae

pkannan@thenational.ae