Court adjourns hearing of 17 Indians on death row

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 21:15

Dubai: Seventeen Indians, sentenced to
death for killing a Pakistani, were on Wednesday allowed to have a
Punjabi translator by the Sharjah Court of Appeal which also
adjourned the case to June 16.

"They were asked to either plead guilty or innocent
but the convicts said they don’t understand any language other
than Punjabi. The court then agreed to allow us a Punjabi
translator," Bindu Suresh Chettur, the lawyer handling the
case, said today.

According to her, the Sharjah Court of Appeal then
adjourned the case to June 16 when it will be heard again.

Indian consulate in Dubai has already made a
translator available to the Indians.

"Things are being taken forward step-by-step but I
can tell you that things have gone according to plan," Chettur
said.

A Sharjah court of First Instance had on March 29
found the 17 Indians, 16 from the Punjab and one from Haryana,
guilty of beating a Pakistani man to death and wounding three
others when a fight involving dozens of bootleggers broke out
in the Al Sajaa industrial area in January last year.

An appeal was filed on April 7 on behalf of the
Indians.

"There is a translator who could only translate in
Hindi" while the defendants could only understand Punjabi, the
head of India`s Lawyers For Human Rights International
(LFHRI), Navkiran Singh said after the hearing.

He said that the lack of translation could mean that
the whole trial was wrong. "If they never understood what
happened in court, then all the proceedings are null and
void," he said.

About 50 people were allegedly involved in the attack,
in which the Pakistani man was beaten to death with metal
bars. While others were let off due to lack of evidence, the
men on death row are accused of being the gang leaders.

Amid an outrage in India over the verdict, the
government had asked its consulate in Sharjah to engage a top
lawyer and file an appeal to a higher court.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had termed the
death sentence on the Indians as "very unfortunate" and
instructed his ministry to assist them in filing an appeal and
also bear all the expenses involved.

Preneet Kaur, the Minister of State for External
Affairs, had met families of the 17 convicted Indians and
assured them of the government`s support in pursuing the case.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 21:15

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