We won’t pay blood money, say Indians on UAE death row (Third Lead)

Friday, December 31, 2010

SHARJAH/CHANDIGARH - Claiming innocence, 17 Indians sentenced to death for killing a Pakistani man in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have refused to settle the case by paying blood money to the victim’s family as recompense for the murder. Their families in India agree and say they will not take up the new offer by the victim’s family.

The representative of victim Misri Nazir Khan’s family told the Sharjah Court of Appeal Thursday that they were ready to settle the case if the accused agreed to pay the blood money.

The representative told the court: “The family wants compensation, including ‘diya’ (blood money) or ‘qasas’ (death sentence), if the defendants refuse to pay the compensation.”

The defence team headed by lawyer Mohammed Salman rejected the offer ruling out the question of settlement as the accused have not been proven guilty yet, a media report said.

However, the court told the defence team to give a second thought to the offer and fixed Feb 17, 2011 as the next date for hearing.

Seventeen Indians, 16 from Punjab and one from Haryana, were sentenced to death by a court in Sharjah in March 2010. They were convicted of murdering a Pakistani man and injuring three in January 2009 following a fight over illegal liquor business.

The murder took place in Al Sajaa area of Sharjah in the UAE. The victim, who was identified as Misri Nazir Khan, died of stab wounds and also suffered brain damage, police said.

The court panel presided by Justices Abdulla Yousuf Al Shamsi and Ahmed Labib and Public Prosecutor Mustafa Al Barodi referred the settlement application to the defence lawyers who said they would discuss the proposal with the families of the defendants and a representative of the Indian Consulate in Dubai.

Bindu Chettur, a member of the defence team, told Gulf Today that the two investigating officers who appeared before the court Thursday were cross examined and their response has given a boost to their defence in the case.

The defence requested the judge to summon the remaining two investigating officers for cross-examination. They also requested the court to order them to produce the weapons that were allegedly used in the fight and which were later confiscated by the Sharjah police.

According to her, the evidence is not complete unless and until the material object used in the crime is produced in the court.

“It is a must to establish the relationship between the crime, the object with which the crime was committed and the accused. Unless it is proved in the court, the accused cannot be proven guilty,” she was quoted as saying.

She also pointed out that the absence of prime accused, Raju, is yet another issue that should be investigated.

In India, the family members of the 17 Indians on death row and a Punjab-based NGO opposed the giving of blood money to secure their release.

“There is no need to give any blood money for the release of the Indian youths. It is given in those cases where conviction has been proved through evidence. But in this case they are innocent and Sharjah police have not found any evidence against them,” Navkiran Singh, representative of NGO Lawyers For Human Rights International (LFHRI), told IANS Friday.

He added: “We want to bring them back clean. But once we pay the blood money it will automatically proved them guilty. Besides these 17 men, there are many other innocent Indian youths lodged in UAE jails and we cannot pay blood money for all of them.”

Jhony Singh, brother of 27-year-old Navjot Singh, who is lodged in Sharjah jail, told IANS: “I have talked to Navjot and he was very unhappy over this matter. He was totally against giving any blood money. He told me that he was fine and was very hopeful for an early release.”

Sher Singh, whose nephew Sukhjinder Singh is also lodged in Sharjah jail, said: “My nephew is innocent; so why should we pay blood money for his release. We want both Punjab and central government to intervene in this issue to save 17 innocent lives.”

All the convicted men are between 17 and 30 years of age and all belong to lower middle-class families.

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