Indian sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, family pleads innocence


New Delhi : The family of a Keralite, sentenced to death by a Sharia court in Saudi Arabia for allegedly transporting narcotic drugs, claims he is innocent and has sought the Indian government's intervention for his release.

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Bichaminabi, mother of Sheik Mastaan alias Mohammed Salim, who had been sentenced to death by the Sharia court of Dammam, also approached Saudi Arabia's ambassador here pleading him to take up the matter immediately.

Salim, who went to Saudi Arabia in September 2003 for employment, was caught from his friend's house by officials, who had raided the latter's room in May 2006 for narcotic drugs. Salim, 30, was working as a mechanic in Riyadh.

In a memorandum to the ambassador Thursday, Bichaminabi claimed that no drugs were seized from Salim's room or from his custody during the raid.

"He was wrongly implicated in this case. Salim being a poor, uneducated person and having no knowledge of Arabic, was unaware of the proceedings and was having no means or knowledge to defend himself and convince the court of his innocence," Bichaminabi said in the memorandum.

The family had approached Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed, who had directed them to meet the ambassador.

Ahamed said the Indian government was in touch with the authorities concerned.

"Although they (Saudi government) do not appreciate interference in drug-related cases, we have forwarded their request to the appropriate authorities. The Indian embassy there also is doing whatever possible," he told IANS Thursday.

Bichaminabi, who is in the capital, said Salim had "never engaged himself in any illegal activities in his life. He has been leading an honourable and modest life, working hard to earn a living for his family."

Salim, she said, is the sole breadwinner of her family consisting of his wife and his four-year-old daughter Naswa.

The Indian government's intervention had helped Naushad, another Keralite, to be spared of the punishment slapped by Dammam Sharia court in April last year. The court had ruled that Naushad would have his right eye gouged out as punishment for damaging the eye of a Saudi national in a scuffle.