Were tortured for confession: Indians on death row
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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 01, 2010, 22:51
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 earlier ruling.

"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.


First Published: Wednesday, September 01, 2010, 22:51

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