• Monday, March 04, 2024

INDIA

Family of Kerala nurse on death row in Yemen seeks government intervention

Nimisha Priya was found guilty of killing Talal Abdo Mahdi by administering sedatives, purportedly in an attempt to retrieve her passport from him.

Nimisha Priya

By: Pramod Thomas

A court has asked the Indian government whether it was willing to grant permission to the mother of Kerala nurse, Nimisha Priya, who is on death row in Yemen, along with three others to travel to that country.

They wanted to travel to Yemen to negotiate with the victim’s family about paying blood money to save her daughter from the gallows.

Responding to the query, the government counsel informed Delhi high court on Monday (4) that India did not have diplomatic ties with Yemen and it had closed down its embassy there. The counsel said it would not be desirable for the mother to visit the foreign nation currently riven by strife.

“The situation in the Middle East is not good. It is not desirable to travel to Yemen in this situation. India will not be able to help if anything happens to the petitioner (mother) there. We don’t want a ransom demand situation arising there,” the counsel, representing the Indian government, submitted.

Yemen’s Supreme Court had on 13 November dismissed the appeal of Priya, who was working as a nurse in the West Asian country, against her sentence.

Priya has been convicted of murdering Talal Abdo Mahdi, who died in July 2017, after she injected him with sedatives to get back her passport from his possession.

It was alleged that Priya administered him sedatives so she could take back her passport while he was unconscious but he died of an overdose.

Priya’s mother moved the high court earlier this year seeking permission to go to Yemen in spite of a travel ban for Indian nationals and negotiate the “blood money” to save her daughter.

Blood money refers to the compensation paid by offenders or their kin to the family of a murder victim.

Advocate Subhash Chandran KR, who represented the petitioner, said some Indians running businesses in Yemen and currently in India are being granted permission to travel there.

The counsel said they know some Indians who have valid Yemeni visas and they are willing to accompany the woman and negotiate blood money with the victim’s family.

The high court asked the petitioner’s counsel to file an affidavit stating the details of those willing to travel to Yemen with the woman. It listed the matter for next Monday (11)  for further hearing.

The woman had filed the plea seeking facilitation of her travel to Yemen for an urgent hearing on 2 December on which the court had issued notice to the government and sought its response.

The petitioner’s lawyer had said a letter informing about the Supreme Court of Yemen dismissing Priya’s appeal was received on 1 December and her execution can take place anytime.

The lawyer said the petitioner was not asking the government to pay blood money and was only seeking permission to travel to Yemen.

The plea sought the court’s direction to the government to facilitate the travel of the petitioner, Priya’s 10-year-old daughter, and two other adult family members to Yemen to try and save her after negotiating with the victim’s family.

The Save Nimisha Priya International Action Council approached the high court last year and sought direction to the government to “facilitate diplomatic interventions as well as negotiations with the family of the victim on behalf of Priya to save her life by paying blood money in accordance with the law of the land in a time-bound manner”.

The petition alleged Mahdi had forged documents to show he and Priya were married and abused and tortured her.

Who is Nimisha Priya?

Hailing from Palakkad district in Kerala, Nimisha Priya pursued a nursing training programme and subsequently worked in several private hospitals in Yemen. Her connection with Talal Abdo Mahdi began in 2014 when he pledged assistance in establishing her own clinic. Yemeni law mandated a local partnership for starting any business, leading to their collaboration.

The partnership soured due to disagreements, prompting Priya to start her clinic in 2015. However, Mahdi allegedly started threatening her, even confiscating her passport to prevent her from leaving Yemen.

Priya reported these issues to the police, resulting in Mahdi’s arrest in 2016. Despite his release, he continued to harass her.

In 2017, Priya administered sedatives to Mahdi in an attempt to reclaim her passport. Tragically, he succumbed to an overdose. In 2018, she was found guilty of murder, leading to imprisonment and later a death sentence.

(with inputs from PTI)

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