Dubai: Seventeen Indian workers on death
row in Sharjah for the murder of a Pakistani man today pleaded
not guilty and told an appeals court that the police extracted
their confession after torturing them.
The accused were brought into the Sharjah Court of
Appeal in three groups, and the defendants were asked to
individually explain what they knew about the case, the
deceased and their first confessions.
The lawyer handling the case on behalf of the Indians,
Bindu Suresh Chettur said that they were cross-examined
today as the translators were made available as per court`s
"They pleaded not guilty and said they were never
questioned by the prosecutors. They said they have been
questioned only by the police," she said. The court has taken
cognisance of this fact and September 29 has been set as the
date for the next hearing.
The Indians told the judge they had never spoken to a
public prosecutor and all the confessions were extracted from
them by police after severe beatings.
Three earlier hearings in the Sharjah Court of Appeal
Court were postponed because of the absence of an acceptable
translator from Punjab to Arabic.
The next hearing is set for September 29.
The Ministry of Justice provided a translator, and the
proceedings went uninterrupted. Their answers were all
similar: one after the other denied any knowledge of the
deceased and denied being involved in a bootlegging operation
that allegedly led to the man`s death.
After hearings from the accused, the judge asked the
lawyers to make their requests. A lawyer, Mohammed Salman, who
is representing 16 of the accused, asked the judge to summon
to court the forensic scientist who examined the crime scene,
`The National` reported.
He also asked the court for an explanation from the
public prosecution department of how their case had been made
without ever talking to the accused.
"Prosecutors are supposed to conduct their own
independent investigations, not copy and paste that of
police," he said.
A Sharjah court of First Instance had earlier 17
Indians, mostly from Punjab, guilty of beating a Pakistani man
to death and wounding three others when a fight involving
dozens of bootleggers broke out in the Saaja industrial area
in January last year.
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.