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The 17 Indians may return home soon

Sharjah: The Sharjah Appeals Court on Wednesday sentenced 17 Indian men involved in the bootlegging-and-murder case to six months in jail, paving the way for their deportation soon, their lawyer said.

The sentence comes in the wake of fresh charges of bootlegging that were slapped against the men in January, although the death sentence imposed on them for the murder of a Pakistani man, Misri Khan, was commuted in September.

Bindu Chettur, Defence Lawyer, Mohammad Salman Advocates & Legal Consultants, told XPRESS that the 17 men have already served their six-month terms.

The men have been in jail since 2009 for the murder of Khan and for assaulting three others during a bootlegging fight in the Al Sajja labour camp off the Sharjah-Dhaid Road.

"They have been in jail for more than two years and six months for bootlegging and murder. The judgement was pronounced in the judge's chamber today and we are waiting for the details of the verdict," she said.

The civil case against the 17 Indians, in which two men have sought compensation for injuries sustained in the bootlegging brawl, is scheduled for February 15.

The court is expected to examine the degree of disability of the injured and decide the future course of action.

Total tally

Of the 61 Indians accused in cases of bootlegging-murder in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman, all but three have escaped the death penalty or life imprisonment, with 25 having returned home in the last few months and the remainder serving commuted terms.

A tally of the cases shows that the three Indians still facing the death sentence are Sandeep Singh for the murder of Mandeep Singh in Sharjah in 2007 and Major Singh and Amarjit Singh for the murder of three South Indians in Dubai in 2010.

The 17 Indians who were sentenced to six months in jail on Wednesday by the Sharjah Appeals Court were earlier sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted after the family of murder victim Khan was paid Dh3.4 million in blood money.

Once the civil case in which two of the injured are seeking compensation is settled, this group, who are now cleared of criminal charges, will be able to return to India as they have served their term in prison.

"We are only waiting for the court's orders," said S.P. Singh Oberoi, the Dubai-based businessman who paid their diya money and will provide their air tickets back to India.

He said compromise settlements with victims' families in other cases have already enabled 25 Indians to return to their homes in Punjab.

While two Indians, whose case is in Ajman, are still under trial, the remaining lot are in Dubai jail, serving 15 to 40 years.

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