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No confirmation yet on Naushad's pardon

P.V. Naushad

P.V. Naushad  

Atul Aneja

Formal announcement likely after King arrives in New Delhi on Tuesday

DUBAI: After facing more than two years of imprisonment in Saudi Arabia, there appears to be some hope for P.V. Naushad, a worker from Kerala, who could have one of his eyes removed as punishment for causing an eye injury to a Saudi national following a scuffle. Indian officials, when contacted, at the embassy in Riyadh said they had no official confirmation that Mr. Naushad was being pardoned.

"We have contacted Mr. Naushad's lawyer, who has informed us that he had so far not received any official confirmation that clemency had been granted," Deputy Chief of Mission at the embassy K. Krishna Kumar told The Hindu.

Official sources, however, said that it was likely that the Saudi authorities could make a formal announcement on this subject after King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz arrived in India on a three-day visit from January 24.

King Abdullah would be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade on January 26.

Mr. Naushad, who hails from Kollam in Kerala, was imprisoned after he allegedly injured Naif Muthef, a Saudi national, in a fight in Dammam, located in the country's oil-rich eastern provinces. In the scuffle, there was injury to Mr. Muthef's eye, apparently leading to permanent damage and loss of vision. A Sharia court in December had issued its verdict that Mr. Naushad would have his right eye gouged out as punishment or face the prospect of indefinite imprisonment.

Under Saudi law, only the victim himself or the Saudi head of State could announce a pardon.

Mr. Naushad's wife Suhaila has left her hometown for New Delhi, hoping to have an audience with the Saudi monarch.

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