THE APPEAL challenging a UAE court’s decision to award capital punishment to 10 Punjab natives for murder will be heard by the High Court in Abu Dhabi on December 21. Dubai-based hotelier SP Singh Oberoi has filed the appeal on behalf of the convicts, who have been charged with the murder of a Pakistani national in Al Ain city of Abu Dhabi in July last year. They were held guilty by a lower court in Al Ain on October 26 this year.
Dinesh Kumar, First Secretary and head of Community Affairs Wing at the Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi, said, “I and a few other officials from the embassy had met them [convicts] in the jail a few months ago. At that time, their trial was going on. We do not have any official information about the court awarding them death sentence yet. The embassy cannot interfere in the court’s procedure. We have not got a copy of the judgment yet. Once we get it and we receive some request from the families of those convicted, then we shall move a request petition to authorities here requesting mercy for the convicts.”
Kumar added, “We have our community association in Al Ain that looks after such cases. We shall seek information from this association about the case to proceed further. Once we get the copy of the judgement, we shall intimate Ministry of External Affairs in India. We can also facilitate an interaction between convicts and victim’s family for adopting ‘blood money’ procedure that is permitted under law here. But it all depends on the victim’s family who may not agree with it.”
Jagtar Singh, father of Satminder Singh, a Barnala native who is among the 10 on the death row, said, “We are trying our level best to adopt blood money method, but there is no development on that front so far. We have also approached the Punjab government through our deputy commissioner for help but have got no response yet.”
The 10 convicts are Satminder Singh of Barnala, Chander Shekhar of Hoshiarpur, Harjinder of Mohali, Kulwinder Singh of Ludhiana, Dharamvir Singh of Samrala, Tarsem Singh of Amritsar, Gurpreet Singh of Patiala, Jagjit Singh of Gurdaspur, Chamkaur Singh of Malerkotla and Balwinder Singh of Ludhiana.
Oberoi has already rescued over 70 young men from the gallows and helped in the release of 17 youths on death row from Punjab and Haryana. He told Express, “Bootlegging is a serious crime here. The court mostly awards death sentence in such cases and blood money is the only way out. We have filed an appeal in the high court in Abu Dhabi.
The appeal has been admitted and shall come up for hearing on December 21. I have also arranged an advocate for these convicts to contest the case.”
All 10 convicts, most of them not even matriculate, belong to poor families who had gone to UAE as plumbers, masons, carpenters and electricians.