Saturday, February 06, 2021

Qatar court orders review of Mumbai couple’s conviction for drug trafficking, family sees hope

New Delhi: In relief to a Mumbai couple convicted for ten years in a drug trafficking case in Qatar, the highest Qatari court has set aside the conviction and ordered a “review of the case”.

Mohammad Shareeq and Oniba Qureshi had been arrested in 2019 from the Hamad International Airport in Doha for carrying 4.1 kg of hashish in their luggage. The couple was convicted for the offense and has since been in jail. Qureshi even delivered a daughter inside prison.

However, according to the couple, it had gone to Qatar for a “second honeymoon” — a trip sponsored by Shareeq’s paternal aunt Tabassum Riyaz Qureshi. She allegedly gave the couple a drug packet, falsely claiming it contained tobacco to be delivered to a friend in Qatar.

Since their conviction in 2019, Shareeq and Oniba’s families had been running pillar to post for relief.

In its order Wednesday, the Court of Cassation noted the verdict of the appeal court, equivalent to a high court, was “defective and worth for challenge” as it did not take into account the defense.

“The verdict hasn’t replied for the defense supported with the documents as they hadn’t criminal intent as they were not knowing that the captured matters as narcotics and they were cheated by one of their relatives. This makes the verdict defective and worth for challenge (sic),” said the order, which was originally in Arabic and translated by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in India. ThePrint has accessed a copy of the order.

The court returned the case to the appeal court for a review, where it will be scrutinised under a new bench.

Speaking to ThePrint, the couple’s lawyer Nizar Kochery said the case will now be heard again by the appeal court and he expects full relief.

06/02/21 Ananya Bharadwaj/Print

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