17 Indians won't pay blood money over murder: lawyers



SHARJAH // The 17 Indians whose death sentences for killing a Pakistani man were commuted last week are not prepared to compensate the victim's relatives as part of a settlement proposal, their lawyers are saying.

The families of the defendants were not prepared to pay blood money to end the case when the men have not proven to have committed the crime, Mohammed Salman al Marzouqi, the spokesman of the four lawyers on the defence team, said yesterday.

"The families are arguing that paying the blood money would mean they accepted their guilt," he said. "They don't want to accept guilt for a crime they did not do."

The family representatives met with the Indian consulate yesterday and the diplomatic mission said that they should pursue the case to the end, Mr al Marzouqi said. The defence team will submit a rejection to the settlement proposal and wait to hear from the judge as how the case would proceed.

"We have all decided we are not paying any blood money," said Navikran Singh, the chairman of Lawyers for Human Rights International, an Indian organisation that has been active in the case. "Our lawyers are capable of proving the innocence of their clients and this is exactly what we want to do."

The accused were from poor families who could not afford to pay for the crimes they had not done, he said. Some family members have also said they were not in support of compensation.

"I know my brother is innocent and there is no point in paying the blood money," said Arjinder Singh, a Dubai resident whose brother is one of the accused. "I want the court to find those who are guilty to pay, but not my brother."

The defendants, 16 from the Punjab and one from Haryana, were given death sentences in March by a Sharjah court which found them guilty for the murder of a Misri Nazir Khan, a Pakistani national, near an industrial area as a result of a bootlegging dispute in January 2009.

Police said that about 50 people were arrested in connection with the case but through interrogations only 17 were charged for the fatal attack, in which the Pakistani man was stabbed repeatedly. Three other Pakistani men were injured in the attack.

The Sharjah Court of Appeals had on Thursday came up with a settlement deal to have the death sentence overturned. The family of the murdered man accepted the proposal. The next hearing is February 17.

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