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10 Nov, 2023 10:31

India appeals death sentences for eight navy veterans in Qatar

New Delhi is engaging with authorities in the country after the Indian citizens were reportedly convicted of espionage
India appeals death sentences for eight navy veterans in Qatar

New Delhi has appealed the decision of a Qatari court to impose a death sentence on eight former navy officers who were reportedly convicted of espionage, the Indian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. 

Details of the judgment are confidential and have only been shared with the legal team representing the eight individuals, a spokesperson for the ministry said. He added that an appeal has already been filed with the court in Qatar, and New Delhi “remains engaged” with authorities in the country as it pursues “further legal steps”.

India is continuing to provide legal and consular support to the eight detainees and their families, the spokesman added, cautioning the public not to “engage in speculation” due to the sensitive nature of the case.

The decision of the Court of First Instance in Qatar can be appealed to the country’s Court of Appeal, the Hindustan Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter. A further appeal can be lodged in the Court of Cassation – the highest court in Qatar’s judicial system.

The newspaper further reported that India may also be looking at “other options” to resolve the matter. These could include an arrangement under an agreement signed by India and Qatar in 2015 for the transfer of convicted prisoners, allowing them to complete their sentences in their home countries.

New Delhi also has the option of approaching the International Court of Justice, the UN body that settles disputes between states in accordance with international law.

The Qatari Court of First Instance handed down the death sentence to the eight Indians on October 26, more than a year after they were detained in Doha by Qatar’s intelligence service, the State Security Bureau.

Indian media have speculated that the navy veterans may have been arrested on charges of spying on a submarine program on behalf of Israel. They were reportedly charged with “espionage” and were held in solitary confinement for long spells. Their first trial was held in late March, and all of their bail pleas were rejected.

All of the arrested ex-navy officials worked for a private firm, Al Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, which provided services to the Qatari armed forces and security agencies. Issuing a statement on the day of the verdict, the Indian Foreign Ministry said it was “deeply shocked” by the decision. 

Last month, Indian Foreign Minister Subhramanyam Jaishankar met the family members of the detained individuals in New Delhi. He said the government would “continue to make all efforts to secure their release.” On Thursday, a ministry spokesperson said New Delhi had been in contact with the families of the detained men.

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