x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Killers go home after Bangladeshi government pays blood money

Six workers, facing the death penalty in Dubai for stabbing a Pakistani man in 2007, have returned home after their sentences were commuted.

Six Bangladeshi workers facing the death penalty in Dubai have returned home after their sentences were commuted when their government paid Dh200,000 (US$54,000) in blood money, officials said yesterday. The men were accused of stabbing to death a Pakistani man in Dubai in 2007 during a row over "borrowed money and a loan payment", according to the labour consul at the Bangladeshi embassy in Abu Dhabi.

After the sentences were handed down in 2007, the defendants' lawyers appealed and the case was sent to the federal court, where the family of the dead man negotiated financial compensation with embassy officials. "If the legal heir of the deceased says they have no further claims, then they can let it go," the consul said. It was the first time that the government of Bangladesh has paid blood money to help citizens in a foreign country. An estimated four million Bangladeshis work in the GCC.

"Usually the government does not do it. The ethics of the country do not allow for it," the consul said. But the Dubai consulate appealed on behalf of the six men, saying six families, not just the individuals, would be affected if the accused were executed. "It was a humanitarian decision," said the consul. After several negotiating sessions with the victim's family's lawyer, the government approved a payment of Dh200,000 to the victim's family this year, which was submitted in court by the embassy officials. The family had sought Dh600,000.

Sheikh Hasina, the Bangladeshi prime minister, had ordered the welfare board to pay the compensation, according to Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain, the minister of expatriate welfare and overseas employment in Bangladesh. "I am happy they have come back to their families and their children," he said. As part of the agreement, the workers were sentenced to three years in jail, including time already served. That prison term ended this month. Three of the workers went home last week. The others left for Bangladesh two days ago, according to the embassy.

The men worked as labourers in Dubai and were from the same village in southern Chittagong. In murder cases, the families of victims have the option of receiving financial compensation, diyaa, popularly known as blood money. @Email:sbhattacharya@thenational.ae