The family of the victim, who was killed in 2013 in Kuwait, pardoned the convict Arjunan Athimuthu after accepting compensation.

TN man saved from death row in Kuwait after wife local leaders raise blood money
news Society Saturday, January 26, 2019 - 18:54

The death penalty for Arjunan Athimuthu, the Tamil Nadu native convicted and sentenced for murdering a native of Malappuram in Kerala, has been commuted to life imprisonment by the Kuwait government. Munavvar Ali Shihab Thangal, the local leader who helped raise Rs 30 lakhs to pay blood money to the victim's family, received the news on January 22. "The death sentence of Mr Arjunan Athimuthu has been commuted to life imprisonment by the Government of the State of Kuwait," Munavvar Ali’s office told TNM in an email.

Arjunan was arrested in September 2013 for killing his roommate Abdul Wajid, a native of Malappuram, in Kuwait. According to police, an argument between Arjunan and Abdul resulted in the crime after Arjunan flew into a fit of rage.

Abdul is survived by his wife and two children. In 2016, the apex court of Kuwait awarded the death sentence to Arjunan for the crime. As per the law of the country, the death sentence can be commuted if Wajid's family pardons him and agrees to accept 'diya' or blood money (compensation). Malathy, wife of Arjunan, had met Wajid's wife and mother multiple times seeking pardon of the family. Life has also been a struggle for Abdul's family. Though his wife had earlier demanded Rs 10 lakh, later due to pressure from other family members, it was raised to Rs 30 lakh.

For Malathy, who is a housemaid, it was beyond her ability to raise such a large sum of money, and negotiations lasted for months. But after Munavvar Ali Thangal intervened, the funds were finally sourced. 

Munavvar Ali Shihab Thangal is the son of late Panakkad Sayyid Muhammad Ali Shihab Thangal, one of the most influential leaders of the Indian Union Muslim League. He is also leader of the Youth League, the youth wing of the Indian Union Muslim League.

Munnavvar Ali found out about the plight of Malathy through news reports and reached out to help her. He, along with Kottakkal MLA Abid Hussain, launched a crowd funding initiative to raise Rs 30 lakh.

"The money was given to the family of Wajid in November 2017. The legal procedure took time to complete. We got the email on January 22. Later we also received a voice message from Arjunan thanking Munavvar Ali. He also sought help to commute the life term. But we are not sure how can we help him in that considering the severity of law of the country," Munavvar Ali’s office told TNM.

In 2004, Malayalam movie Perumazhakkalm directed by Kamal, told the story of a wife pardoning the murderer of her husband, paving the way for commuting the death penalty.