8 Navy Veterans Jailed in Qatar on 'Espionage' Charges Released, 7 Return to India

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By ETV Bharat English Desk

Published : Feb 12, 2024, 6:25 AM IST

Updated : Feb 12, 2024, 10:53 AM IST

The Ministry of External Affairs announced the release of eight ex-Indian Navy veterans, who were initially sentenced to death in Qatar. With seven of them having already returned to India, the Indian government expressed gratitute for their release.

The Ministry of External Affairs announced the release of eight ex-Indian Navy veterans, who were initially sentenced to death in Qatar. With seven of them having already returned to India, the Indian government expressed gratitude for their release.

New Delhi: Nearly three months after being sentenced to death over alleged spying charges, Qatar released eight jailed former Indian Navy personnel, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Monday. The MEA said that seven of them have returned to India and that India appreciates the decision by the Amir of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of the Indians.

An official statement by MEA welcoming the decision to set the veteran officers free, stated, "The Government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for the Dahra Global company who were detained in Qatar. Seven out of the eight of them have returned to India. We appreciate the decision by the Amir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals."

The eight Indian nationals, who worked with the private company Al Dahra, were imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022 and were accused of allegedly spying on a submarine programme. The retired naval personnel were sentenced to death by a Qatar court on charges that have not yet been made public officially. The Navy veterans were on October 26 given death sentences by Qatar's Court of First Instance.

The Court of Appeal in the Gulf nation on December 28 commuted the capital punishment and sentenced them to jail terms for varying durations. The sentence has now been reduced to jail terms. The charges were filed against the eight Indian Navy veterans on March 25 last year and they were tried under Qatari law.

Describing the judgement, the Ministry of External Affairs had said, "We have noted the verdict today of the Court of Appeal of Qatar in the Dahra Global case, in which the sentences have been reduced. "The MEA also said that the detailed judgement in the case is awaited and are in close touch with the legal team in Qatar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai and discussed bilateral partnership and the "well-being of the Indian community" living in Qatar.

Earlier, the newly appointed spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, Randhir Jaiswal, emphasised the temporal significance of this period, stating, "As far as the issue is concerned, there is a time of 60 days when this issue can be appealed in the Court of Cassation, which is the highest court in Qatar."

The MEA's legal team possesses the confidential court order detailing the commutation of the death sentences to imprisonment terms, a move revealed in a press release following the court of appeal's judgement on December 28.

"We issued a press release in which we informed you that the death sentence, which was originally a death penalty, has been changed to imprisonment sentences. Now our legal team has that court order, and I can confirm that all of them have received sentences of different durations, and the death penalty has been abolished," Jaiswal said.

Moreover, the Court of First Instance of Qatar had also passed the judgement against them, according to a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs. The MEA spokesperson also highlighted the recent meeting that took place between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad and said that they have had a good conversation on the overall bilateral relationship.

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Last Updated :Feb 12, 2024, 10:53 AM IST
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