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regular-article-logo Thursday, 22 February 2024

Qatar releases eight former Indian naval officers arrested in 2022: Modi government

The eight men, who were condemned to death in October, had been accused of spying for Israel, according to sources, though India and Qatar did not confirm the charges

PTI Published 12.02.24, 07:02 AM
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Qatar has released eight jailed former Indian Navy personnel nearly three-and-a-half months after they were handed down death sentences in a case of suspected espionage.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said 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.

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"The Government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for the Dahra Global company who were detained in Qatar," the MEA said.

"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," it said in a brief statement.

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 Indian nationals, who worked with the private company Al Dahra, were arrested in August 2022 reportedly in an alleged case of espionage.

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

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

After the Court of Appeal commuted the death sentence, the Indian nationals were given 60 days to appeal against the order of their jail terms.

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

India was also looking at the possibility of invoking provisions of a bilateral pact on the transfer of sentenced persons.

The pact inked between India and Qatar in 2015 provides for citizens of India and Qatar who have been convicted and sentenced for criminal offences to serve their sentences in their home country.

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