Qatar commutes India ex-navy officers’ death penalty

Neither Qatar nor India have revealed the specific charges against the men
Image caption,Neither Qatar nor India have revealed the specific charges against the men

By Meryl Sebastian

BBC News, Kochi

A court in Qatar has commuted the death sentences of eight former Indian naval officers, India’s foreign ministry has said.

A ministry statement said the “sentences have been reduced” but did not specify what new penalty they would face.

Neither Qatar nor India have revealed the specific charges against the men.

FT and Reuters have reported, citing unnamed sources, that the men were charged with spying for Israel.

A spokesperson for Israel’s embassy in India refused to comment, saying it was “not an Israeli matter”.

“Due to the confidential and sensitive nature of proceedings of this case, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this juncture,” India’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Families of the imprisoned officers said they would appeal in Qatar’s top court for reducing their sentences, the Indian Express newspaper reported on Friday.

In October, India said it was “deeply shocked” after the men were sentenced to death. It later filed an appeal against the court verdict.

The arrest of the men last year made front-page headlines in India, but there has been little confirmed information about the charges against them – the court’s order has not been made public.

The Indian government has said that the eight men were employees of a private company called Al Dahra, but they have been widely reported to be former personnel of the Indian Navy. Last year, in parliament, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar described them as “ex-servicemen” of the country. The families of some of the men have also confirmed their identities and background in the Navy to local media.

Earlier this month, India’s ambassador to Qatar met the men in prison.

On Thursday, India said its ambassador and other officials were present in the Court of Appeal of Qatar along with the family members of the men during the hearing.

“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,” the ministry statement added.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *