Why is an Indian nurse Nimisha Priya facing execution in Yemen?

Sweta Gupta
Sweta GuptaNov 17, 2023 | 18:11

Why is an Indian nurse Nimisha Priya facing execution in Yemen?

Since 2011, Priya, a mother of an eight-year-old child, has been working in Yemen's Sana'a. (Photo Credits: X / @myvakil)

The Supreme Court of Yemen rejected the appeal against the death sentence of Nimisha Priya, an Indian nurse imprisoned since 2017 for the murder of Talal Abdo Mahdi, a Yemeni national. 

Initially sentenced to death in 2018, her family has been advocating for her release. 

With the Yemeni Supreme Court dismissing the appeal, the decision now rests with the country's President.


Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, stated that the Indian government is aware of the situation and is offering consular assistance as needed.

What happened

  • Nimisha Priya, hailing from Palakkad district in Kerala, pursued a nursing career after completing her training.
  • She worked in private hospitals in Yemen since 2014.
  • In 2014, Priya met Talal Abdo Mahdi, who promised to assist her in starting a clinic, as Yemeni law required a local partnership for businesses.
  • Their collaboration soured, leading Priya to start her clinic in 2015, but Mahdi began threatening her, confiscating her passport in an attempt to prevent her from leaving Yemen.
  • Priya sought police intervention after Mahdi's arrest in 2016, but he continued to harass her after his release.
  • In a desperate attempt to recover her passport, Priya injected Mahdi with sedatives, unintentionally resulting in his fatal overdose.

Subsequently, Priya and her colleague Hanan allegedly disposed of Mahdi's body in a water tank. Priya was found guilty of murder in 2018 and was sentenced to death.


What now?

  • Since 2018, Priya's family has been striving for justice.
  • Recently, Priya's mother approached the Delhi High Court, seeking permission to travel to Yemen amidst the Indian travel ban, to discuss "blood money" as compensation.
  • "Blood money" refers to compensation the perpetrator pays to the victim's family.
  • While the court is considering the request, it initially advised the government to focus on legal solutions rather than directly discussing blood money.

A group named "Save Nimisha Priya International Action Council" urged the government to intervene diplomatically and negotiate to save her life, despite the court's stance on blood money.

Efforts persist to explore legal options against Priya's conviction in Yemen. Earlier allegations included Mahdi forging documents claiming marriage with Priya and subjecting her to abuse and torture.

Last updated: November 17, 2023 | 18:11
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