The demonstrators also presented a petition in support of E K Gangadharan yesterday addressed to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the UAE Ambassadors to India and the UK. The campaign to save Gangadharan is gathering momentum, particularly across India.
The petition said Gangadharan had worked in the UAE "loyally and blamelessly" for 32 years in Al Rabeeh School in Abu Dhabi. He has been sentenced to death on charge of rape. It states that Gangadharan was beaten and degraded in prison, including being denied food and water for three days. Gangadharan pleaded innocent at his trial in the First Court and will do so at his appeal hearing. It is alleged that he was denied a fair trial as his court-appointed interpreter spoke Hindi and not his native language of Malayalam.
The petition claims DNA evidence showing that Gangadharan did not commit the crime, was not given in court. Human Rights Watch representative Nick McGeehan said, "The silence surrounding this case is concerning. It is imperative that the UAE authorities conduct an immediate investigation into allegations that Gangadharan endured torture and didn't receive proper legal assistance either before or during his trial. And the Indian authorities should be lobbying hard for this investigation."
Director of the Emirates Centre for Human Rights, Rori Donaghy said, "This case bears the hallmark of one where the defendant has been convicted without being given a fair hearing. It is of grave concern that a man is facing the death penalty when there are allegations of torture that have not been investigated."
He said, over the past year there have been numerous allegations that prisoners in the UAE have been tortured in order to extract confessions and that 75 per cent of prisoners at Dubai Central Prison claim to have been physically abused.