Kerala nurse on death penalty in Yemen recounts horrid tale
Last week, Nimisha Priya made headlines after she was handed the death sentence for killing her "husband," a Yemeni national, and chopping his body into pieces. However, the 30-year-old nurse—lodged in a jail in Yemen's capital city Sana'a—recounted how she faced two years of physical torture, death threats, and harassment by the man she killed, Talal Abdo Mahdi, who pretended to be her husband.
Last week, Nimisha was found guilty of murdering Talal in 2017, chopping up his body, and disposing it off in a water tank at her house. Her death sentence in the case was upheld last week by an appeals court in Sana'a. Nimisha, a native of Kerala's Palakkad, told The News Minute she does not have legal aid to fight her case.
According to TNM, Nimisha used to live in Yemen with her husband Tomy Thomas, an unskilled laborer, and their one-year-old child. Tomy returned to Kerala in April 2014 with the child since it was tough for the couple to sustain themselves financially. Thereafter, the two discussed starting a small clinic in Yemen and were advised to seek a Yemini citizen's help for the license.
Tomy said Nimisha then suggested Talal's name, she had gotten acquainted with him in 2014. Tomy, who now lives in Ernakulam, said they had gone to Talal's clothes shop once. However, the couple ended up taking someone else's help instead. Tomy and the child could not return to Yemen as the civil war broke out and the country stopped issuing new visas in 2015.
After Nimisha opened her clinic in 2015, the harassment started, she told TNM. Talal allegedly demanded a share of Nimisha's income and started asserting himself in matters related to the clinic. He also registered vehicles for the clinic in his name and included his name as a shareholder of the clinic, Nimisha said. This happened without her knowledge, she claimed.
Thereafter, Nimisha said she learned that her monthly share from the clinic had started going to Talal. When she asked the clinic's manager, she found that Talal told others she was his wife. Talal justified this by saying that others who could pose problems assuming she was single, would be taken care of. Notably, Talal was already married.
When Nimisha returned to Kerala in 2016, Talal tagged along with her, she said. During this visit, he got hold of her marriage photos, which he allegedly later morphed to prove that Nimisha was his wife.
Nimisha said when she reported this to the police station in Sana'a, both of them were arrested. Talal later made a fake marriage certificate, submitted it to court, and they were set free, she said. Nimisha said the harassment got worse thereafter and Talal even got hold of her passport. She alleged Talal became violent towards her, even in front of the clinic staff.
She said, "He confiscated my passport, he forced me to live with him. He would come to my house inebriated and attack me physically, threaten me to obey him, inflict injuries on me." She added, "He would even bring his friends to my house at night, force me to do sexual favors for them. I used to run out each time to protect myself."
Nimisha said Talal went to jail several times around this time, based on her complaints of assault, and others' complaints of money fraud, land fraud, etc. Tomy told the publication that Talal would also confiscate Nimisha's SIM cards.
In July 2017, Nimisha planned to sedate Talal and retrieve her passport, upon the suggestion of a jail warden, she said. When she injected him with Ketamine, Talal, who she said was a substance abuser, fell on the floor and stopped breathing. "I had not meant to kill him," she said. She then called her friend Hanan, who helped her dispose of the body.
Nimisha told TNM, "Though I pleaded with the court that I was not his wife and was subjected to torture and that I did not mean to murder him, I could not prove this in the court without the help of a lawyer." She said the judge could easily identify the marriage certificate is fake and quiz neighbors to discover the torture she underwent.
However, Nimisha said she was assigned a junior advocate by the appeals court, who did not appear for her properly. The lawyer also would not be able to appear for her next appeal in the apex court since he is a junior advocate, she said. An alternative would be to pay Rs. 70 lakh as blood money to Talal's family.
Indian authorities had attempted to appoint a lawyer through the Indian Embassy, however, the coronavirus pandemic foiled this attempt as the lawyer was unable to travel to Yemen. Nimisha will file her appeal against the death penalty at the apex court of Yemen soon, which the court will consider in two-three months, TNM reported. However, she would still need a legal representative in court.
On Tuesday night, the Indian Embassy in Djibouti tweeted, "Our officers have been in touch with Nimishapriya and her lawyer." The tweet added, "Even though our Embassy in Yemen is not functional due to the security situation, we will extend all possible help to her to lodge an appeal in the Appeal Court against the death sentence. Let's hope for the best."