Just two days before they were to go under the executioner’s blade in Kuwait’s central prison last week, two Indians -- Suresh Shanmugasundram and Chellapan Kalidas -- got a reprieve, after paying blood money to relatives of their alleged murder victim, a Sri Lankan citizen.
The duo, both of them residents of Chennai, had been arrested along with a Sri Lankan woman, Premila Rekki for the murder of another Sri Lankan woman S Masudha.
According to sources, the Indian embassy had started to provide assistance to the two Chennai residents and helped them to engage a lawyer, Haider Dashti.
After their arrest in July 2008, it took the Kuwaiti judiciary five years to convict the three accused for the murder and awarded them capital punishment.
Following the announcement of death penalty, the Indian embassy took up the matter with greater urgency and approached the office of the Emir of Kuwait. Similarly, the Ministry of External Affairs also took up the case with the Kuwaiti embassy here in New Delhi. Earlier this month, the duo were notified that they will be executed on June 18. The efforts made by the relatives and lawyers of the accused, along with the Indian diplomats in touch with the Kuwaiti authorities, further intensified.
They were also in touch with the relatives of the killed Sri Lankan, as they negotiated a possible way out by payment of blood money.
Finally, on June 16, the Kuwaiti authorities announced that the execution of the three accused had been suspended after the relatives of the Sri Lankan victim agreed to accept payment.
According to sources, Chellapan Kalidas paid 600,000 Sri Lankan rupees (about Rs 2.77 lakh). However, the amount paid by Suresh is not known.
The Indian embassy is now talking to the local authorities for the commuting of their sentence to a lower degree. Both the Indian nationals are currently lodged at the central prison in Kuwait.