Six Bangladeshi workers return home from death row in UAE jail

Dhaka: Six Bangladeshi workers, who were sentenced to death in the United Arab Emirates three years ago for murdering a Pakistani national, have returned home after the government secured their release by paying "blood money" to the victim's family, officials said on Sunday.

"The six Bangladeshi workers returned home in two different dates from Dubai this week after the UAE justice authorities ordered their release as the victim's family agreed to pardon them in exchange of blood money in line with UAE's Sharia law," a senior official of the expatriate welfare said to a news agency.

First secretary of Bangladesh embassy in Dubai Nasrin Zahan, who was reached by phone, said the six Bangladeshi workers awaited execution in a UAE jail for the past three years while a trial court handed down death sentences to them.

The Appellate Court there also upheld the verdict rejecting their appeal prayers.

"Eventually, we secured their release following prolonged negotiations with the victim's family who agreed to pardon them in exchange of 200,000 Dihrams," said Zahan, who pursued the case and negotiations in the past three years after the 2007 murder of the Pakistani worker.

She said the entire amount of the blood money was provided from the welfare fund of the expatriate welfare ministry, which also paid another 30,000 dihrams to the lawyer appointed by the embassy to defend them.

Nasrin said the three years of jail terms were also counted alongside the amount of the blood money by the UAE justice and interior ministry authorities and added that she had attended all the hearings at the UAE’s trial and appeal courts.

Officials in Dhaka said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered the concerned authorities to pursue their release and pay the blood money from the government exchequer.

Earlier, reports said the victim Pakistani national, who too lived in the same labourers dormitory along with the Bangladeshis in Sharjah city, lost his life in clashes over a "silly matter" as they were gossiping together after work hours.

The victim's family, who live in Pakistan, had appointed a UAE lawyer to pursue the case and negotiations.

An official, who was familiar with the process, said lawmaker Mainuddin Khan Badal, whose Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) is an ally of the ruling Awami League-led grand alliance played a crucial role in securing their release offering the blood money from the government fund.

Badal could not be contacted immediately for comments but the official said this was the first time Bangladesh paid blood money to secure its workers' release.

Nearly four million Bangladeshis work in countries in the Gulf, mostly as labourers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.