An Indian court Tuesday awarded death to a man who killed his Riyadh-based friend and business associate in July 2011.
The Body parts of Salim, 44, was cut into 16 pieces and buried in a garbage dump in his courtyard, packed in nine plastic bags, were recovered by police 12 days after the brutal murder, hatched in the Saudi capital by Sharif, 41, and his accomplice six months in advance and carefully executed.
The Principal Sessions Court here also handed down life imprisonment to his associate Sanofar, 41. He was also ordered to pay a compensation of one million rupees to the family of Salim, whom Sharif owed Rs 24.4 million.
The dismembered body of Salim was found buried in the courtyard of Sharif’s rented house at Varkala, some 50 km from here, at the end of an intensive search after his car and cellphone was found abandoned.
On July 21, police arrested Sharif, who had returned from the Kingdom before Salim arrived and reported missing by his family.
Sanofar was brought from Riyadh after Sharif confessed to his role in the gruesome murder. He was coaxed to come home using his relatives and they picked him up from the airport.
Police detected Sanofar’s role from the call that Sherif had made to him from his cellphone immediately after the murder. Both were roommates in Riyadh and they were Saleem’s associates in his moneylending business targeting Indian expats.
The duo used to take money from Salim at low interest rates and lend it at a higher cost, a business that is illegal in the Kingdom. They decided to murder Salim after both had agreed to share the immense assets of Salim. They schemed the murder after extracting maximum money from him.
According to the prosecution, they invested the money in landed properties. Sherif was working as a driver in the Saudi capital, besides the illegal business of money laundering.
The original idea to kill Saleem was mooted by Sanofar and Sherif agreed to kill him in Riyadh itself and dump parts of the body in several locations there. But Sanofar discouraged him saying it was dangerous as Saudi law was tough and warned him that they would be beheaded if caught. Then they finalized a detailed ‘work plan’ to kill him in India. They also decided not to involve anyone else to avoid sharing the money. It was also decided to drug him before the murder as Sherif was not strong enough to overpower Saleem.
Sanofar also played a role in bringing Saleem to Sherif’s rented house taking advantage of his ‘weakness’ for wine and women. Saleem parked his car in another place and reached the house in Sherif’s car, which was also borrowed from another person. Sherif served Salim alcoholic beer mixed with sedatives and smashed his head with a machete before cutting him into pieces in his bathroom using a knife brought from abroad. He rang up Sanofar once the ‘job’ was done, giving a lead to the police to nail Sanofar. Sherif was initially insisting that he did the crime on his own.
Sherif also sent his wife and children to her house saying he wanted to clean up the place and the septic tank. When they returned the place was clean and nothing was there to be suspicious about. The police, who recovered the car and cellphone of Saleem from a nearby area, just registered a man missing case. It was also suspected that he was abducted by a gang demanding money but nothing was heard about him since.
The police traced the calls registered on the cellphone and Shareef was under the scanner. He admitted to have killed his friend after prolonged interrogations.
The investigation also revealed the extent of illegal money lending business among the expatriates with the loans pledging their passports as collateral. Sherif used copies of passports of two of his clients to forge an identity document for taking a cellphone connection from a local vendor here. The passport copy that he submitted contained photograph of a Bangladeshi and the number of the passport was traced to a resident of Kannur in Kerala employed in Riyadh who told the police that he had given his passport as collateral to Sherif from whom he had borrowed money.