The Sharjah Court of Appeal, hearing a plea from 17 Indians sentenced to death for killing a Pakistani man, on Wedesday adjourned the case to June 16 after allowing them to have access to a Punjabi translator.
"They were asked to either plead guilty or innocent but the convicts said they don't understand any language other than Punjabi. The court then agreed to allow us a Punjabi translator," said Bindu Suresh Chettur, the lawyer handling the case.
The Sharjah Court of Appeal then adjourned the case to June 16.
The Indian consulate in Dubai has already made a translator available to the Indians. "Things are being taken forward step by step, but I can tell you that things have gone according to plan," Chettur said.
A Sharjah court of First Instance had on March 29 found the 17 Indians, 16 from Punjab and one from Haryana, guilty of beating a Pakistani man to death and wounding three others, when a fight involving dozens of bootleggers broke out in the Al Sajaa industrial area in January last year. An appeal was filed on April 7 on behalf of the Indians.
Nearly 50 people were allegedly involved in the attack, in which the Pakistani man was beaten to death with metal bars. While others were let off due to lack of evidence, the men on death row were accused of being the gang leaders.
Amid an outrage in India over the verdict, the government had asked its consulate in Sharjah to engage a top lawyer and file an appeal in a higher court. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had termed the death sentence as 'very unfortunate' and instructed his ministry to assist them in filing an appeal and also bear all the expenses involved.
Preneet Kaur, the minister of state for external affairs, had met the families of the 17 convicted Indians and assured them of the government's support in pursuing the case.