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Indians on Death Row in Sharjah
Defence lawyers say no to ‘blood money’ offer
Appellate court fixes next hearing on February 17
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service


  • 17 Indians, 16 of them from Punjab, given the death sentence for allegedly killing a Pak national
  • They have spent two years in prison and their appeal is pending
  • The victim’s family now ready for settlement and to accept ‘blood money’ worth Rs 2.5 crore
  • Defence lawyers turn down the offer, say it would amount to admission of guilt
  • Family of the accused, benefactors and NGOs more keen on a settlement

Chandigarh/Sharjah, December 31
The dramatic offer made yesterday for a compromise by the victim’s family in the Mishri Khan murder case was today turned down by the team of defence lawyers. Speaking to The Tribune from Sharjah, one of the lawyers, Bindu Suresh Chettur, explained that the 17 Indians, 16 of them from Punjab and one from Haryana, were innocent and chances of their acquittal were bright. It, therefore, made no sense to accept the offer for compromise.

The 17 Indians were given the death sentence by the Sharjah Shariat Law court for allegedly killing Mishri Khan, a Pakistani national. They were also charged with bootlegging. The uproar back in Punjab caused by the verdict prompted the Indian consulate in Dubai to hire the services of five lawyers to defend the men, most of them young and in their twenties.

The victim’s family had earlier refused any compromise. But yesterday they expressed their readiness to accept “blood money” amounting to approximately Rs 2.5 crore and demanded that if the accused refused to pay the blood money, they should be hanged. The payment, under the prevailing law, would have enabled the accused to escape the death penalty.

Chettur, talking over the telephone, however, explained that the defence had put up a convincing case and she was confident that the ‘innocent’ Indians would be acquitted. Accepting the offer of the victim’s family at this stage would amount to an admission of guilt, she pointed out.

The appellate court yesterday had fixed the next hearing on February 17 and asked the defence lawyers to consult the Indian government and relatives of the accused before firming up their response to the offer. “Any decision on payment of Diya money will be taken in consultation with the Indian Consulate,” the court was informed yesterday.

During the past few hearings, the defence team had the prosecution on the backfoot for its failure to establish the relationship between the offence, weapon used to commit the crime and the scene of the crime. Bindu Chettur said that it was the duty of the prosecution to produce the weapon before the court. But the prosecution has failed to do so even after several hearings.

Although the defence planned to cross-examine prosecution evidence and witnesses, they have not had an opportunity to do so yet. The Investigating Officer, a police officer, has also failed to depose before the Sharjah Appeal Court even after he was given extended opportunities.

Evidence given by medical personnel confirmed that no blood sample of the “accused persons” was taken and as such opportunity to match blood stains on the clothes of the victim and the suspects was lost.

The defence had punched holes in the prosecution story and maintained that the CD/DVD produced in court was an “after thought”. The Police had reluctantly agreed to produce the CD/DVD in the court and give the defence a copy of it.

SP Singh Oberoi, a Dubai-based hotelier and businessman, who has been following the case, pointed out that the accused had already spent two years in prison and it was time they came out. He also hinted at the possibility of an ‘out-of-court’ settlement and payment of some sort of compensation.

“My Manager Amir Sultan visited the family of Mishri Khan in Pakistan where all agreed for settlement. The family has already given power of attorney to its representative, Ramzan, in Dubai. Ramzan, appeared in the Sharjah Appeal Court yesterday and informed the court of the decision of the family to accept settlement.

“Since the Defence team of lawyers has sought time to respond to the offer, we are trying to work out a settlement to get the boys released,” said Oberoi.





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