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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Indian envoy meets eight ex-Navy personnel on death row in Qatar: MEA

There have been two hearings so far (these were held on November 23 and November 30). We are closely following the matter and extending all legal and consular assistance. This is a sensitive issue, but we will do whatever we can, says MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi

PTI New Delhi Published 07.12.23, 06:08 PM
Arindam Bagchi.

Arindam Bagchi. File picture

The Indian ambassador to Qatar met eight former Indian Navy personnel on death row four days back and two hearings took place on an appeal filed against the capital punishment handed down to them by a Qatari court.

Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Arindam Bagchi said this at a media briefing on Thursday.

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The Navy veterans were on October 26 given death sentence by Qatar's Court of First Instance. India described the ruling as "deeply" shocking and vowed to explore all legal options in the case.

An appeal was filed against the death sentence by the family members of the Indians.

"As you know, we filed an appeal that is from the families and the detainees. Two hearings have since been held. One, I think on November 30 and the other on November 23," Bagchi said when asked about the case.

"I think the next hearing is coming up soon. We are closely following the matter and extending all legal and consular assistance. Meanwhile, our ambassador got consular access to meet all eight of the men in prison on December 3. We will continue to follow (the matter)," he added.

Asked whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi took up the matter with Qatar's Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani when they met on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai last week, Bagchi did not give a direct reply and referred to Modi's post on 'X'.

"We had a good conversation on the potential of bilateral partnership and the well-being of the Indian community in Qatar," the prime minister had said.

The Indian envoy was given consular access earlier as well.

The Indian nationals, who worked with private company Al Dahra, were arrested in August last year reportedly in an alleged case of espionage.

Neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi made the charges against the Indian nationals public.

In its reaction to the ruling by the Qatari court, the MEA last month said that it is attaching "high importance" to this case and is exploring all legal options.

The charges were filed against the eight Indian Navy veterans on March 25 and they were tried under Qatari law.

All of the former Navy officers had "unblemished stints" of up to 20 years in the Indian Navy and had held important positions including that of instructors in the force, former military officials had said.

In May, Al Dahra Global closed its operations in Doha and all those working there (primarily Indians) have since returned home.

On December 1, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said the government is putting all-out efforts to bring back the former naval personnel from Qatar.

"There is total support and effort being put in by the government," he said.

In the past, the Navy had taken up the case of the former naval personnel with top brass of the government for securing their release.

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