x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Settlement agreement may free Indian man

Driver convicted in traffic death has served more time than he was sentenced to

DUBAI // An Indian man imprisoned two years ago after being involved in an accident that killed a Pakistani man may be released from jail next week after the victim’s family agreed to accept a blood money settlement.

The acceptance was confirmed before a Dubai court today by the power of attorney holder representing the family of Amshid Ali, said K Kumar, the chairman of the Indian Community Welfare Committee (ICWC), an aid group that raised the settlement funds.

The incident in the Jebel Ali area in January 2009 involved Anil Kumar Sridharan, who was sentenced to six months in jail and has served almost a year more than that. Sridharan, 43, will be the eighth inmate to be released after being assisted by the ICWC, which pronounced itself relieved with the outcome.

“We are happy that one more case has been solved,” said Mr Kumar. “It is a relief to have freed an inmate who would have just continued [to sit] in jail.”

A formal release letter will be sent to the public prosecution shortly, said Vinod Verma, Sridharan’s lawyer. It was hoped that Sridharan’s release could be finalised as soon as Sunday, he said.

The case was one of 13 accident cases identified by the ICWC last year where deaths were caused without premeditation and those jailed had completed their terms but could not raise the Dh200,000 in blood money needed for their release. The ICWC supplied the funds and also negotiated with the victims’ relatives. There are 1,710 Indians in UAE jails according to Indian government figures.

Sridharan’s friends contributed Dh35,000 towards his settlement with the remainder supplied by the ICWC, which declined to specify the settlement amount. Sridharan said he was very appreciative of the efforts made on his behalf.

“I don’t have this money. I will never have so much money,” he said from the Dubai Central Prison. “I hear my son always asks when I will come home. What can my family say? It is difficult for them.”

Sridharan worked in Dubai for five years before the accident, earning about Dh1,600 per month as a driver. He said he was indebted to Mr Kumar and the team of aid workers who visited him in prison.

“It’s because of them my family has survived,” he said. “They have helped me a lot.”

Without a regular income, his family relied on the ICWC for monthly expenses. His wife, mother and two children live in a thatched-roofed home in the town of Varkala in southern Kerala state.

“It’s very bad had happened,” said his wife Sujji, 29, her voice breaking in sobs. “We are very poor. People help so we [are] alive.”

The couple has been married for seven years. Sridharan has not seen his daughter, who was born six months after his arrest. He believes in fate.

“Whatever the man above wants will happen,” he said. “I know I didn’t run and leave the man. I called the police.”

rtalwar@thenational.ae