UAE court orders new medical panel to review torture evidence in case of death row migrant worker

May 11, 2015

Abu Dhabi’s highest court today commissioned a new panel of doctors to review the medical evidence in the case of an Indian migrant worker sentenced to death on the basis of a ‘confession’ extracted under torture.

At a hearing in the case of Ezhur Gangadharan, sentenced to death in 2013, the Abu Dhabi Supreme Court ordered a panel of three new doctors to review all of the medical evidence in the case – including that of Mr Gangadharan’s torture.

Mr Gangadharan, a father of three who works in the UAE to support his family in Kerala, India, was arrested in 2013 in connection with the rape of a minor at the school where he worked for 32 years. Upon arrest, Mr Gangadharan was repeatedly tortured by police. He was reportedly told that if he did not confess to committing the crime, the abuse would continue. The injuries Mr Gangadharan sustained were detailed in two medical reports submitted at trial. There was no physical or DNA evidence linking Mr Gangadharan to the crime. A number of other Indian nationals were also detained and tortured in relation to the offence.

In February 2014, the Abu Dhabi Supreme Court vacated Mr Gangadharan’s death sentence and ordered the Court of Appeal to re-consider the evidence of his torture at the hands of police. However, when reconsidering the case, the Court ignored this evidence, as well as expert testimony on the lack of DNA evidence, relying exclusively on his coerced confession to confirm the death sentence.

Indian embassy officials attended court today, at which the judge set May 25th as the date for the next hearing.

Maya Foa, director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “Mr Gangadharan was sentenced to death primarily on the basis of nothing other than a ‘confession’ extracted after brutal police torture, despite a large amount of evidence pointing to his innocence. All of this evidence must be fully considered, and today’s hearing suggests that the court agrees. It is understandable that victim’s families seek justice, especially in a case of this nature, but scapegoating a man from one of the UAE’s most vulnerable groups of people is not justice of any sort.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Clemency Wells at Reprieve: clemency [DOT] wells [AT] @reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8161