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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Qatar drops death sentence for 8 Indians – New Delhi

The appellate court has commuted the capital punishment handed to ex-navy officers 18 months after they were detained, the government has said

The appellate court in Qatar has commuted the death sentence earlier handed down to eight Indian nationals, New Delhi said in a statement on Thursday.

The sentence, initially pronounced by a Qatari court on October 26, has been “reduced,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that a “detailed judgment” on the matter is still awaited.

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The Court of First Instance in Qatar had issued a death sentence to eight former Indian naval officers more than a year after they were detained in Doha by Qatar’s intelligence service, the State Security Bureau. They were employed by Oman-based Dahra Engineering & Security Services, which provided training and other services to Qatari defense personnel.

Although the details of the charges are considered “confidential,” media outlets have speculated they were charged with “espionage.” Mint newspaper reported that Qatar had evidence suggesting that the former officers had passed on intelligence to Israel.

Reacting to the verdict at the time, New Delhi said it was “deeply shocked” by the decision and vowed to explore “all legal options.” The government ensured it would continue to provide legal and consular support to the eight detainees and their families, cautioning the public not to “engage in speculation” due to the sensitive nature of the case.

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Immediately after the sentencing, Indian Foreign Minister Subhramanyam Jaishankar met the family members of the detained individuals in New Delhi and assured the government would “continue to make all efforts to secure their release.” On Thursday, the Indian Ambassador to Qatar, and other officials were present in the Court of Appeal along with the family members, when the verdict was announced.

Earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai. However, Modi did not explicitly state whether he addressed the matter with the Qatari ruler.