Only a miracle can now save Kerala nurse awaiting execution in Yemen

Nimisha Priya has been languishing in jail since 2018, and now her family fears that they may never see her again.

Nimisha Priya has been convicted of murder

The news pushed Nimisha Priya’s family into the abyss. Earlier this week an appellate court in Yemen upheld the capital punishment awarded to the Malayali nurse for the 2017 murder of a local man.

Priya has languishing in jail since 2018, and now her family fears that they may never see her again.

‘Save Nimisha Forum’, a collective working for Priya’s release, says their only option is to file an appeal with the supreme judicial council of the country. However, the council will only examine if any procedural errors affected the outcome of the case, not its merits.

The Federal was in touch with Priya till last year, when she was allowed to use the phone twice a week. Later jail authorities withdrew that facility following a fight between two groups of inmates.

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Forum members have told the family to avoid talking to the media, as favourable coverage could harm negotiations with the family of the deceased.

The members told The Federal that they are exploring the possibility of clemency by paying blood money. So far the talks have been fruitless, and the family is demanding that the death sentence be carried out, they added.

Over several conversations, the members shared basic details of the case with The Federal.

Priya and her husband, Tomy Thomas, were living in Sana’a, Yemen – she working as a nurse and he was an unskilled labourer. Thomas returned to India in 2014 because of financial reasons. That same year Yemen was gripped by civil war, and Thomas was unable to return. 

Priya wanted to start a clinic; she opened one in 2015 with the help of Yemeni national Talal Abdo Mahdi, an acquaintance.

Abdo Mahdi was responsible for the day-to-day running of the clinic, but he soon started claiming a stake in it. 

Abdo Mahdi started harassing her by demanding money. In 2015 he accompanied Priya to Kerala when she came on a month-long holiday. During the visit, he stole a wedding photograph of Priya, which he later manipulated to claim that he was married to her.

Abdo Mahdi made everyone believe that Priya was his wife. Unable to bear the harassment, Priya complained to the police in Sana’a. But instead of taking action against Abdo Mahdi, the police arrested Priya and put her in jail for six days. 

Abdo Mahdi also forged documents to make himself a shareholder in the business. To ensure that she would not run away, he snatched her documents, including the passport. 

Finally, Priya, with the help of a friend –  another woman, a Yemeni – decided to sedate Abdo Mahdi and recover the documents. However, the sedative killed Abdo Mahdi.

Thomas and Priya’s only child, a nine-year-old girl, is living in an orphanage. Priya’s mother, a domestic help in Ernakulam, is hoping for a miracle.

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