Free Satpal Ram

Album: Rafi's Revenge (1998)
Charted: 56
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Songfacts®:

  • This track tells the story of a controversial murder case, that of Satpal Ram, a Birmingham Asian who was jailed for life in June 1987 after defending himself against a racially motivated attack by a group of white men in November 1986. That is the story put forth by Ram's supporters including Asian Dub Foundation, the British band Primal Scream, and most of the British media.

    The other view is that Satpal Ram stabbed a stranger in a drunken frenzy in an Indian restaurant when his victim, Clarke Pearce, asked for the music to be turned down; Ram objected and stabbed Pearce in the back with a flick knife - an illegal weapon - gloated over him as he lay dying, then fled the scene of the crime with the murder weapon still in his hand. The victim's elder sister and his fiancée were present at the time of the murder, and both testified at Ram's trial.
  • Ram appealed his murder conviction twice; his second appeal was dismissed in a strongly worded judgment by Lord Justice Beldam in November 1995, but in June 2002, he was paroled still protesting his innocence, and vowing to fight on to clear his name. In May the following year his life license was revoked following allegations of assault and criminal damage, and he remained unlawfully at large until he was arrested in April 2005, assaulting two police officers in the course of his detention.

Comments: 3

  • Helene Ryles from Birmingham, EnglandI've only just heard about this case but I think people have a right to defend themselves against attack. He shouldn't have had to spend all these years in prison and suffered all that racial mistreatment. Due to my disability (I'm deafblind asperger) I am not capable of self defence in this manner and my sight loss would make it impossible even for me to identify my attacker, but those who can should be permitted to do so without being penalised so much.
  • Alexander from London, EnglandIt isn't my account that is biased, it is the accounts in the mainstream media that are at best slanted and at worst disgraceful lies that have been parroted uncritically. Re your comment, the victim's name was Clarke Pearce, not Stuart Pearce. Whether or not Ram had been assaulted by other people at other times is totally irrelevant. Pearce was unarmed, Ram stabbed him to death with an illegal weapon. And the only reason he turned himself in to the police was because he couldn't obtain a passport to flee the country.

    Ram was rearrested in April 2005 and was not paroled again until 2013. This time no one is writing songs about him.
  • Philip from Manchester, United KingdomYour account of the facts around this song seem hugely partial and biased. Here's an extract from an article in the Observer newspaper from Sunday 30 January 2000; "In November 1986, then 20, he and two friends went for a meal at the Sky Blue Indian restaurant in the Lozells area of the city. A table of six white people also in the restaurant started hurling racist abuse at the waiters and complaining about the Asian music that was being played. Satpal responded with a call for the music to be turned up. One of the men, Stuart Pearce, then came at Satpal with a broken glass and stabbed him in the face. Satpal responded by drawing a short-bladed penknife. In the ensuing struggle, Pearce sustained a number of stab wounds and later died ... He himself had been assaulted a number of times prior to the incident at the Blue Sky. 'I've never refuted that a man died as a result of my actions,' he says. 'But the circumstances have never been taken into consideration. I accept that loss of life is wrong, but if I hadn't done what I did I would be dead now.' A week after the killing he turned himself into the police."
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