An appeals court in Yemen has stayed the death penalty awarded to Keralite nurse Nimisha Priya, who is currently lodged in a jail in the country’s capital, Sana’a.
The death penalty will be suspended till further orders after the court accepted in its file the appeal to delay the sentence. Senior advocate K.L. Balachandran, who is handling the case, informed Manorama Online about the appeal being admitted.
The appeal has asked the apex court to delay the sentence and provide an opportunity to prove her innocence. Nimisha was awarded the death penalty for killing her husband, Talal Abdu Mahadi, and hiding his body in a water tank at home.
Through the appeal, the court has been requested to consider the circumstances that forced Nimisha to commit the murder and the criminal behaviour of Talal Abdu Mahadi, a Yemeni citizen.
A copy of the verdict in the case was obtained through the Indian Embassy. Embassy officials had visited the jail to get the appeal papers signed by Nimisha. They had also hired a Yemeni lawyer to present Nimisha’s case.
Efforts are also being made to get the sentence commuted by giving 'blood money' to the family of Talal Abdu Mahadi. According to Yemeni law, the death penalty can be avoided if the family accepts the blood money. The family can also ask the court to release her from prison. The blood money amount required is Rs 70 lakh. Although voluntary organisations are willing to pay the amount, it has not been possible to talk to Talal's family recently. Balachandran had held preliminary talks with the family a few months ago.
A Yemeni citizen had to be hired as the lawyer because the legal system there is different. But it is Balachandran who is coordinating all the other matters related to the case and also providing legal advice.
Balachandran said he believes that Nimisha can be saved from the death penalty. He said he is in constant touch with the Indian Embassy and NORKA.
NORKA officials said they were doing everything possible to secure the release of Nimisha.
The murder for which Nimisha has been awarded the death penalty took place on July 25, 2017. While working as a nurse, Nimisha had sought Talal's help to start her own clinic. After she started the clinic, Talal started taking its money. He became hostile when she questioned him about the embezzlement.
He later threatened her, forged documents to marry her as per his religion and brutally tortured her. He seized her passport and did not allow her to leave the country. Talal also threatened to sexually assault her.
She killed him because of his constant torture. Hanan, a nurse who was also involved in the murder, is serving a life sentence.
(This article was first published on onmanorama)