After 30 years in jail, it’s a whole new world for Ahmed

After 30 years in jail, it’s a whole new world for Ahmed

Shaikh Mohammed pardons Iranian who was sent to gallows in 1988 for murder

By Asma Ali Zain/deputy Chief Reporter

Published: Mon 15 Jun 2015, 12:31 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:09 PM

Ahmed Jassim with his brother on reaching Iran. — Supplied photo

Dubai - Ahmed Mohammed Jassim knows the true meaning of freedom. He was waiting for death every day for the past 30 years until he received a royal pardon recently.

Sentenced to death in 1988 for murder, Iranian national Ahmed, now 48, flew home a free man on Friday afternoon after His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, pardoned him.

His lawyer, Dr Mehdi Shirazi, said that Ahmed was granted pardon by the Ruler due to his good behaviour during the time he spent in Al Aweer jail in Dubai.

In 1980, when war broke out between Iran and Iraq, economic conditions in these countries changed.

Ahmed Jassim before he was jailed

Ahmed, who was 16 and jobless then, entered the UAE illegally in 1983 with the aim of helping his poor family.

He took up a job with a watch and jewellery shop. Two years later, he was accused of murdering a co-worker.

“He was caught by the police two days after the incident from the store and was charged with murder, entering the country illegally, and consuming alcohol,” said Dr Mehdi, who is a PhD research candidate in criminology.

Ahmed was sentenced to death and asked to pay Dh70,000 as blood money. His family paid the money to the Dubai Public Prosecution in 1993.

No member of the victim’s family has till date asked for any money, according to Dr Mehdi.

Four other people were also charged in the case, who have since then served their sentences of 15 years each and left the UAE.

“We don’t know what exactly happened that day,” explained Dr Mehdi, who was appointed a year ago by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs upon the family’s request.

“Ahmed has never admitted to the murder,” he added.

But despite appeals, Ahmed’s death sentence was upheld. Over the years, Ahmed’s family appointed four lawyers who were paid hefty sums but were unable to secure his release.

“As you know, for criminals who are involved in serious crimes, there is no pardon and no mercy… They have to complete their sentences,” said Dr Mehdi. “But this was a very complicated case.”

While Ahmed’s brother and brother’s family were waiting to welcome him back home, his mother, father and one brother died with the hope of seeing him once again. Imprisoned at a tender age, Ahmed had never married.

“It’s a whole new world for him now…Iran has changed…The world is different from what it was 30 years ago…it’s a lifetime,” said Dr Mehdi.

“Ahmed says that it might be difficult for him to adjust in this fast-paced world now.”

According to the Islamic law jurisdiction, there may be two types of penalties for murder — blood money (diya) or retribution (qisas) as a victim’s right, which is chosen by the victim’s family and imposed on the accused if they want. But they may also grant pardon if they wish.

There can be separate penalties against sentenced people as rights of the public which can be imposed by the government (known as tazeer). The choice of pardon is also up to the ruler.

Expressing his gratitude to Shaikh Mohammed, Mehdi said: “His humanitarian gesture is really appreciable (sic)…They respect the dignity of human beings and this gesture of theirs is famous in the region.

“This has strengthened the friendly relations between the nations of Iran and the UAE… And this cannot be possible without the Rulers’ consideration,” added Mehdi.

He also thanked Dubai’s Attorney-General Eissam Issa Al Humaidan who sent reports about Ahmed’s behavioural conducts to Shaikh Mohammed’s office, making way for the prisoner’s pardon.

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