• | 11:03 am

Qatar releases eight former Indian Navy personnel

The former Navy personnel working for a private company in Qatar were arrested in August 2022

Qatar releases eight former Indian Navy personnel

A Qatari court this week released eight former Indian Navy personnel, who were initially detained for alleged spying and sentenced to death before their sentences were reduced to life imprisonment.

“The government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for the Dahra Global company who were detained in Qatar. Seven out of eight of them have returned to India,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement. 

“We appreciate the decision by the Amir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals,” it said. 

The former naval officers were arrested in August 2022 in an alleged case of espionage. The charges were filed on 25 March last year under Qatari law, and Qatar’s Court of First Instance had handed them death sentences on 26 October. 

The charges filed against them were not made public by Qatari authorities, but media reports said they were accused of spying for Israel. The government in New Delhi also did not reveal the charges leveled by Qatar. 

The Court of Appeal on 28 December commuted their death sentences and sentenced them to jail terms of varying durations.  The commutation of the sentences allowed New Delhi to step in and invoke its 2015 agreement with Doha on transferring the sentenced to India.   

The 2015 pact allows citizens of either countries who have been sentenced for criminal offenses to serve out their terms in their respective home countries.

The release of the Navy personnel comes shortly after New Delhi and Doha renewed a long-term liquefied natural gas (LNG) contract until 2048, in a ceremony attended by Qatari energy minister Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi.

Updates throughout the story and headline.

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