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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Indian government to ask Qatar for leniency in murder case

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Court of Appeals and Cassation
Court of Appeals and Cassation

The family of a man facing the death penalty in Qatar for murder has appealed to the Indian government for help with his defense.

He and two other men were sentenced to death by firing squad in December 2014 after they were found guilty of killing an 81-year-old Qatari woman in her home four years ago.

After several rounds of appeals, Qatar’s courts upheld death penalty convictions for Subramanian Alagappa and Chilladurai Perumal, and commuted Shivkumar Achunan’s sentence to life in prison.

Speaking to Indian media, the family of Perumal said he is innocent, and pleaded for his release due to their financial difficulties.

“Somehow he has to be brought home. I’m struggling with my children. We are all in pain thinking about him. I’m unable to settle the debts,” his wife told NDTV.

The men’s final chance to appeal to Qatar’s highest court is at the end of this month, and local lawyer Nizar Kochery confirmed to Doha News he will submit this tomorrow.

Meanwhile, responding to community pressure, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said it will file a petition for leniency this week with Qatar’s Court of Cassation.

Notably, the death penalty has not been carried out in Qatar for more than a decade, according to rights groups.

Retribution sought

Qatar’s courts will close shortly for the summer break, so are not likely to revisit this issue until after Eid Al Adha in September.

And how they rule remains to be seen.

The family of the Qatari woman has previously sought retribution instead of blood money payment in court, and lamented the lengthy legal process.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Last year, after an appeal verdict was postponed for several months, the nephew of the deceased told Doha News, “My aunt was killed in 2012. It’s 2015 now and it’s still not over.”

One factor that will likely be considered by the court is that the crime was especially violent.

According to court documents, the woman was stabbed to death after the men broke into her Al Salata villa to rob it.

What happened

The victim lived alone next door a construction site where the defendants worked, and used to interact with them during Ramadan by inviting them over for meals, even though they were not Muslim and did not observe the fast.

According to the official court verdict, once the men entered the home, the two older defendants knocked on the woman’s ground-floor bedroom door. The victim opened it and was pulled outside.

While one man pinned her arms behind her back, the other covered her mouth and stabbed her in the right side of her chest with a knife.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Forensic examiners later determined that wound to be fatal. As she fell, the victim was apparently stabbed in the back by the other man, kicked in the face and dragged into the bathroom.

“They killed the victim for fear of her identifying them,” the court ruling concluded.

The men were later tracked down by police after being identified by a domestic worker in the home, and apparently confessed to the crime.

In court, defense attorneys argued that the confessions were coerced. Additionally, the defendants did not have legal representation during at least part of the appeal process.

Currently, all three are suffering from health problems, Indian media reports. According to the Hindu, Perumal’s kidneys are failing and he needs dialysis.

Meanwhile, Achunan and Alagappa are in “deep depression,” the News Minute reports.

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