Breather for eight Indians on death row in Qatar  


The eight Indian nationals have been imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022 and were accused of allegedly spying on a submarine programme…reports Asian Lite News

The Qatari Court on Thursday commuted the death penalty sentence of eight ex-Indian naval officers it had arrested last year in the Dahra Global case, Ministry of External Affairs said in a press statement. The sentence has now been reduced to jail terms.

Describing the judgement, Ministry of External Affairs 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.

MEA added, “The detailed judgement is awaited. We are in close touch with the legal team as well as the family members to decide on the next steps. Our Ambassador to Qatar and other officials were present in the Court of Appeal today, along with the family members. We have stood by them since the beginning of the matter and we will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also continue to take up the matter with the Qatari authorities.”

The eight Indian nationals have been 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.

Earlier this month, MEA informed that two hearings have taken place in the case.

“There have been two hearings. We filed an appeal, with the families, and the detainees had a final appeal. Two hearings have since been held. One was on November 30th and the other was on November 23rd. I think the next hearing is coming up soon,” Bagchi said.

Moreover, the Court of First Instance of Qatar 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.

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.

Foreign affairs experts hail India’s diplomacy

After a Qatar court commuted the death sentence of eight Indian ex-Navy personnel, foreign affairs expert Robinder Sachdev hailed India’s diplomacy and said that the new verdict by the Qatari court is a big relief for the arrested personnel and their families.

“No doubt, you see diplomacy has also worked. It shows Prime Minister Modi met the mayor of Qatar on the sidelines of the CoP28 which was being held in Dubai recently. So this would have been certainly brought up by the PM with the mayor of Qatar,” he said.

He added, “The judgment by the Qatari court is indeed a huge, huge relief for the families in India. At the same time, there is still some distance ahead because what has happened, is whether the court has commuted or instead of the death sentence has handed some other judgment, which we do at least. As of now, the question will be what is the judgment that the court has now announced?.”

He said further, “Yes, we understand that the death sentence is no longer in the picture, which is a huge relief. But what else is, because the point is that if the court has kind of judged this as a different category of an episode, then is it a five-year sentence, a ten-year sentence, a 20-year sentence? How long would that sentence be? That is one. But the hope we have is that whatever the sentence in the coming days and months, that sentence could perhaps also be reduced so that we have these sailors back home as soon as possible.”

Additionally, Former diplomat Suresh K Goel also appreciated the Indian government’s efforts which resulted in commuting the sentence of Indian naval officers and hoped that if government could ensure their transfer to India in the coming days.

He stated, “After the efforts by the govt, their death sentence has been commuted, hope that in the coming days, with more efforts the sentence reduces further or if they can be transferred to India so that they can serve their rest of the sentence here…efforts will continue.”

Moreover, Former Diplomat, Ashok Sajjanhar said that the commuted sentence is a “welcome development” and added that this is not the end but a need to ensure that all officers would be brought back home safely.

He noted, ” It is a very welcome development, the whole country was really on an edge…the govt and all those who were involved with it were working very hard to ensure that this sentence is not carried out. This is the first positive development…but of course, this is not the end…we need to ensure that all these officers are brought back home safely with full dignity and all the charges against them are removed.” (ANI)

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