Qatar accepts appeal against verdict on former Indian Navy personnel



Qatar’s appeal court has accepted the appeals filed by the Indian government against the death sentence awarded to eight former Indian Navy personnel in October. The court said the next hearing is expected soon.

The development comes as a relief to the navy men and their families. The men were arrested in August 2022 by Qatar’s intelligence agency allegedly on charges of espionage while they were working with Al Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, owned by an Oman Air Force officer that provided training and other services to Qatar’s armed forces and security agencies.

They were believed to have been overseeing the induction of Italian-made midget stealth submarines into the Qatari Navy. Since last year, the eight men have been held in solitary confinement with neither Qatar nor New Delhi making the charges public. Bail petitions were rejected several times and the verdict against them was pronounced last month.

The eight former Indian Navy personnel were handed out the death sentence by Qatar’s Court of First Instance on October 26. India had at the time described the ruling as “deeply” shocking and vowed to explore all legal options in the case.

Consequently, an appeal was filed against the death sentence, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said earlier this month. “The judgment is confidential and has only been shared with the legal team. They are now pursuing further legal steps, and an appeal has been filed,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said earlier. We will also remain engaged with the Qatari authorities on this matter, he said.

The arrested Indian Navy veterans have a distinguished service record with unblemished stints of up to 20 years in the Indian Navy and have held important positions including that of instructors in the force. They are Commander Purnendu
Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht and Sailor Ragesh Gopakumar.

Meetu Bhargava, the sister of one of the detained officers, had sought government help to bring her brother back. In a post on X on June 8, she had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene. The Indian Navy has in the past taken up cases of former naval personnel with the top brass of the government to secure their release. In May Al Dhara Global closed its operations in Doha and all those working there (primarily Indians) have since returned home.


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