Crime committed on July 9, 2011 at Chirayankeezhu

The Principal District and Sessions Court in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday awarded the death penalty to Sherif, 40, after he was found guilty of the murder of his long-time friend and business partner Salim.

Sherif had invited Salim, the victim, to a house he had rented in a remote locality in Chirayankeezhu on July 9, 2011 and bludgeoned him to death after drugging him.

Sherif sneakily sedated Salim by serving him beer laced with sleeping pills. Sherif smashed Salim’s skull after the drugged beer rendered him unconscious. He then methodically dismembered the body in the toilet and packed the parts in 16 airtight bags he had procured for the purpose from the Gulf earlier. Later, he buried the bags in a pit dug behind the house under the pretext of constructing a new septic tank. Sherif’s partner, Zanobar, was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of plotting the crime.

The three had operated a thriving moneylending racket among low-paid migrant workers living in labour camps in Saudi Arabia since 2000. The duo had killed Salim to deny him his share, chiefly accumulated profits amounting to crores of rupees, in the solely trust-based and largely unaccounted business.

Delivering the sentence, Judge B. Sudheendra Kumar described the crime as diabolic. It fell into the rarest of rare categories and its prime perpetrator deserved capital punishment, he said.

He ordered Zanobar to pay the victim’s wife a compensation of Rs.10 lakh or serve an additional four years of rigorous imprisonment.

The accused seemed visibly upset on hearing the verdict. They had sought the court’s mercy on the ground that they were the sole breadwinners for their respective families and had aged parents to care for.

Special prosecutor V.S. Vineet Kumar argued against any clemency for the accused. The court commended Assistant Commissioner of Police K.E. Baiju and sub-inspector C. Mohanan for their ‘skilled and meticulous investigation,’ which resulted in the speedy detection and conviction of the accused.

Salim’s family and friends, who had thronged the courtroom, became emotional on hearing the sentence.