Sharjah: The Sharjah Appeal court has lifted the death penalty imposed on four men who were sentenced to capital punishment over the murder of an Ethiopian maid in 2009.

A ruling announced on Thursday by presiding Judge Abdullah Yousuf Al Shamisi saw the four Emiratis, who have already served over five years in jail, released after their punishment was reduced to three years each in jail.

The court earlier ordered an increase in the blood money payment to the victim’s family from Dh100,000 to Dh200,000 following an appeal from the family.

The lawyer for the four men said the court waived the death penalty imposed on them and reduced it to three years each in jail. The men, who have already spent more than five years in jail, are now free to go, he said.

Salem Obaid Bin Sahoo, the lawyer for the defendents, told Gulf News, that the settlement follows a reconciliation reached with the family of the housemaid on Thursday.

“The amount of the blood money Dh200,000 has been deposited in the safe of the court, and they accused were granted bail on this basis.”

In 2010, The Sharjah Court of First Instance had issued the death penalty to A.M., 35, S.R., 32, H.A., 33, and A.J., 30, for the rape and murder of the maid in what came to be known as the ‘Al Dhaid murder’. They were also charged with chopping the maid’s body into pieces.

The Sharjah Police had earlier said it was one of the gravest crimes of its kind given that it involved rape, alcohol and murder.

According to court records, the four men had kidnapped the maid in Khor Fakkan in August 2009, taped her mouth, bundled her into their Land Cruiser and took her to the desert. They raped her in Khor Fakkan before dragging her into their vehicle again and driving off to the mountains in Al Dhaid, where the act was repeated.

Prosecutors said that after raping her in Al Dhaid, the men ran their SUV over her and battered the body with rocks before attempting to hide the body.

Cases involving capital punishment automatically go to appeal.

Representatives from the Ethiopian consul attended the session and followed up the case with court on the behalf of the family.