x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Fund opened to spare killer's life in UAE

Officials in Nepal have opened a bank account and contributed Dh4,117 to help a family there pay blood money in exchange for the release of their son, who murdered another Nepalese man in Sharjah.

Nepalese officials have opened a bank account and donated 100,000 Nepalese rupees (Dh4,117) to help a family there pay blood money in exchange for the pardon of their son, sentenced to death for murdering a compatriot in Sharjah.

The Kathmandu-based foreign employment promotion board has set up the bank account, hoping that individuals or charities in the UAE and Nepal will step forward to help pay 2 million Nepalese rupees (Dh82,676) in blood money that had been sought by the victim's family.

The family was not seeking the full Dh200,000 - the blood money amount usually awarded by UAE courts for victims' kin - but were initially willing to settle for a little less than 2 million rupees.

The family said they were now willing to settle for half that amount, or 1 million rupees.

"We are doing this on humanitarian grounds," Arjun Thapa, spokesman for Nepal's foreign ministry, said about the donation.

"The victim and the murderer are Nepali nationals. The government is acting as a facilitator to save the life of our national in a foreign country."

Durga Sunar, 30, was sentenced to death by a Sharjah court for murdering Ganesh Basnet, 25, in 2009.

Sunar's mother has asked Nepal's foreign ministry to help pay the blood money or convince the victim's family to waive it and pardon her son. Both the killer and the victim were working in Sharjah as illegal labourers.

The Nepalese Embassy in Abu Dhabi said UAE authorities had notified them of the death penalty against Sunar in March 2010. The Embassy did not know details of the murder.

The account has been opened in the name of the victim's father, Mohan Bahadur Basnet.

However, Mr Thapa said of the bank account: "This is not to set a precedent for the future. The government did not contribute to the seed money directly but asked the board to do it.

"Any individual willing to help the victim's family and the family of the murderer can contribute to the board."

He said the board's mandate was to help Nepalese nationals overseas when they were in distress.

The victim's family said they were aware of the recent developments.

"Initially, we had asked for two million," said Bhakta Khanda, Mr Basnet's cousin. "But Durga's family said they can't pay so much so we lowered the amount. We are hopeful people will contribute."

A representative of the foreign employment promotion board said this was the first time it has tried to raise blood money for a citizen.

"Sunar's mother requested us to help," said Girija Sharma, the board's director. "We have requested Mr Basnet's family to give amnesty to Sunar. The family has agreed that if they can get at least 1 million rupees, they will grant the amnesty."

She said the board was in touch with the two families and hoped they would be able to reach a settlement. So far, only the seed money has been contributed to the account.