x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Three killers freed after hotelier pays blood money

Men sentenced to death for murder were released from a Sharjah jail this week and claim on their return to India that they were forced to sign papers they could not understand.

Three Indian men sentenced to death for murder were released from a Sharjah jail this week after a Dubai businessman paid nearly Dh150,000 in blood money.

PK, KL and TS, all in their 20s and from the north Indian state of Punjab, returned to India yesterday, where they said that they were innocent and had been forced to sign documents that they could not read, according to Agence France-Presse.

They had been charged in the 2008 murder of an Indian man, Bikram Jeet Singh, during an alcohol bootlegging dispute. They were sentenced to death in 2009.

Indian hotelier SP Singh Oberoi, who has financed the release of others facing the death penalty, heard of the case while on a goodwill prison visit to provide Indian inmates with phone cards to call home. A court approved the agreement that he brokered after members of the three men's families formally offered an apology to the victim's family.

Mr Oberoi, who is the founder of the Indian Punjabi Society in Dubai, said he flew back to India with the men after arranging blood-money payments. The men had already served two years for bootlegging.

"I took each one to their homes, all their family were there, they were so happy and crying from happiness," he said. "The three were taken in for bootleg and murder, but the family finally approved blood money and they were let out."

According to the penal code, crimes of murder, accidental death or grievous bodily harm can be resolved with diyya, or blood money payments. In capital crimes, this right is referred to as al qasas, which gives the blood money heirs the right to seek capital punishment but revokes any claim to blood money if they do.

econroy@thenational.ae