Timely intervention by the Indian embassy and an agreement to pay blood money to the relatives of an alleged murder victim saved the lives of two Indians who were on death row in Kuwait, on Wednesday.

Suresh Shanmugasundaram and Kalidas Chellaiyan, hailing from Chennai, were arrested in 2008, along with a Sri Lankan national, for the murder of a Lankan woman, Sitheek Masudah. Diplomatic sources said the Indian Embassy in Kuwait had provided the accused a lawyer, but the two were convicted and awarded the death penalty in March 2009. A month later, a higher appeals court upheld the sentence.

Despite the agreement to pay blood money to the relatives of the victim, it was reliably learnt on June 14 that the two Indians were to be executed four days later, the sources said.

It was at this point the embassy opened all possible channels of influence and sought the direct intervention of three top Kuwaiti officials. The sentence was suspended on June 16, just 48 hours before the scheduled execution. The embassy is now working on commuting the sentences to a lesser penalty.