India pumps up efforts to save Kerala nurse from execution in Yemen
Authorities in India are stepping up efforts to block the execution of a nurse on death row in Yemen’s rebel-held capital Sanaa.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar confirmed his country was directly involved in helping prevent the rebels from carrying out the sentence of Nimisha Priya, who was convicted in 2020 of killing her Yemeni business partner three years earlier.
The “case will continue to receive our full attention … the possibility that tribal customs and traditions may offer relief is also being explored in co-operation with community organisations”, Jaishankar said in a letter to India's upper house of parliament member John Brittas, who initially sought intervention from his government.
The 33-year-old from Kerala was tried in Sanaa for murdering and dismembering Talal Abdu Mahdi.
The two had met while she was living and working in Yemen. Reports suggest they had come together as business partners to launch a clinic together before things took a turn for the worse.
In an interview with The News Minute, Priya claimed Mahdi confiscated her passport when she confronted him about his involvement in embezzlement.
She also claimed Mahdi physically and sexually abused her.
“He would come to my house inebriated and attack me physically, threaten me to obey him, inflict injuries on me. He used to even bring his friends to my house at night, force me to do sexual favours for them. I used to run out each time to protect myself,” she said.
According to Indian media, Priya had admitted to her involvement in his death, though she maintains it was a mere accident.
Priya’s account suggests she had wanted to inject him with sedatives to retrieve her passport and leave, but an overdose killed the Yemeni businessman.
The trained nurse then dismembered his body and hid his body parts in a water tank. A Yemeni nurse was found guilty of helping Priya and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The rebel-run Sanaa court in March rejected a plea to commute her death sentence and her family is now attempting to raise 40 million rupees ($519,000) as “blood money”.
If Mahdi’s family accept this sum, her life could be spared as per law. According to local media, authorities in the Indian government have assigned a lawyer to submit a new revision plea to the Sanaa court.