Lifeline for five Omanis held in India

Energy Tuesday 25/September/2018 21:13 PM
By: Times News Service
Lifeline for five Omanis held in India

Muscat: The failure of a prosecution witness to appear in court has thrown a lifeline to the five Omanis being held in India, accused of marrying underage girls.
The men were arrested last September by police investigating underage marriages in Hyderabad and have been held in the city for a year now.
The Omani men have claimed from the day of their arrest that they are medical tourists.
On Monday, the men were brought to court so that they could hear evidence from a prosecution witness. The witness failed to appear in court and the prosecution lawyers said the witness could not be located.
Also present in the court on Monday was Dr Khalid bin Hamed Al Ghailani, Minister Plenipotentiary, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman in New Delhi.
In an exclusive interview with the Times of Oman, Al Ghailani said: “The plaintiff or complainant was supposed to be present at the hearing but the prosecution handed over a petition stating that the complainant could not be found. Therefore, the judge decided to remove her name from the list of witnesses.”
“This is a positive development in the case, because the removal of the name of the complainant from the list of witnesses is one of the radical updates, which will help the case to move along in a more streamlined manner, and the testimony of the remaining witnesses will be for the benefit of the Omani defendants,” he said.
Munther Al Salhi, 24, the son of one of the detainees was only too happy to share his hope.
“Monday gives us hope after the trial was postponed more than 12 times,” he revealed, speaking on behalf of his family.
“But we can’t confirm anything before we see our father in front of us.”
He added: “I am the eldest son and I have to take care of my five brothers. We call him every day to consult with us in our daily needs as no one can fill our father’s place.” One year later, the case for five of them continues to rumble on in Indian courts, with the hearing having been postponed more than 12 times since proceedings first began. Three of the men were released last March.
“Through the communication that the Sultanate’s government and the embassy are following up on the issue, led by Sheikh Hamed Al Rawahi, Oman’s ambassador to India, we hope the case will be concluded soon. The embassy also appreciates the efforts exerted by the Indian Foreign Affairs Cooperation and the High Court in Hyderabad to end this issue,” Dr. Khalid bin Hamed added.
In June, a delegation from the Oman Human Rights Commission arrived in India, accompanied by the family members, to meet all five of the detained Omanis.
OHRC Vice-Chairman Yousuf Al Afifi said at that time: “We hope that this initiative enabled the six detained Omanis to meet their family members and helped alleviate the pain they have gone through and brought joy and happiness to their families after a long time.”
When Indian police officials first arrested the Omanis, they confiscated all their electronic devices and passports. They spent a significant amount of time staying at a hotel, where they were detained while court proceedings to verify their innocence continued.