In a significant development, eight former Indian Navy personnel, accused in an alleged espionage case in Qatar, have been granted a major reprieve as the court has halted the death penalty.
The appeal against the death sentence was filed by India, contesting the allegations. The Qatari court had pronounced the death penalty for the 8 ex-naval officers on October 26.
The 8 former Indian Navy officers who were sentenced to death in Qatar are Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Saurav Vashisht, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakaala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal, and Sailor Ragesh.
All of them were employed at a private company named Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy in Qatar, which provides defence services.
The company is led by Khamis Al Ajmi, a retired squadron leader from the Oman Air Force. He was also initially arrested along with the 8 Indian citizens but was released in November.
The State Security Bureau of Qatar's intelligence agency arrested 8 former officers of the Indian Navy on August 30, 2022. However, the Indian Embassy was informed about their arrest for the first time in mid-September.
On September 30, these individuals were granted permission to have a brief telephone conversation with their family members.
The first consular access was provided on October 3, a month after their arrest. The second consular access was granted in December.
Bail petitions of the eight individuals have been rejected multiple times. The Indian government expressed surprise at the decisions of Qatar's court.
The government stated that legal avenues are being explored to secure their release.
The Ministry of External Affairs has issued a statement, mentioning that they are awaiting detailed information on the judgment.
Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar had met with the families of these individuals. He stated that he can understand their pain and concerns.
Jaishankar mentioned that the government is making every effort to ensure the release of all eight individuals.