Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Appeal filed against death sentence to 8 ex-navy men by Qatar court: MEA

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An appeal has been filed against the death sentence given by a Qatari court to eight former Indian Navy personnel and the Indian government is engaged with the authorities in Qatar to find a resolution to the issue that has cast a shadow on bilateral ties, the external affairs ministry said on Thursday.The eight men, including decorated officers who have commanded frontline warships in the Indian Navy, were sentenced to death by Qatar’s Court of First Instance on October 26 after being detained for more than a year on undeclared charges. Reports have suggested the men were accused of espionage.

The judgment [by the Court of First Instance] is confidential and has only been shared with the legal team. They are now pursuing further legal steps, and an appeal has already been filed. We will also remain engaged with the Qatari authorities on this matter,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a regular media briefing.On November 7, officials of the Indian embassy in Doha were provided consular access to the detained men. “We are in touch with the family members too, and the external affairs minister met the family members earlier this month in New Delhi,” Bagchi said.

We will continue to extend all legal and consular support. I would urge everyone not to engage in speculation considering the sensitive nature of the case,” he added.

Very few details about the case have been provided officially by the Indian and Qatari sides since the men were detained in August 2022.

Soon after the Qatari court gave its judgement, the external affairs ministry expressed deep shock at the verdict and pledged to look at all legal options to help the former naval personnel. People familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that appeals against the verdicts of the Court of First Instance can be filed in the Court of Appeal.

After this, an appeal can be filed in the Court of Cassation, which is the highest court in the Qatari judicial system. The Court of Cassation is responsible for deciding on appeals filed against the judgments of the Court of Appeal. The Indian side is understood to be looking at other possibilities to find a resolution to the issue. One option is working out an arrangement under an agreement signed by India and Qatar in 2015 for the transfer of convicted prisoners so that they can complete their sentence in their home country, the people said.

There is also the possibility of approaching the International Court of Justice, as was done in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former Indian Navy officer given the death sentence by a Pakistani military court on charges of spying, or petitioning the emir of Qatar for a pardon.

The families of the eight men have already filed such a mercy petition. Qatar’s ruler usually issues orders pardoning prisoners on the country’s National Day on December 18 and the Eid festivals.The eight men were employees of a subsidiary of Oman-based Dahra Engineering & Security Services that provided training and other services to Qatar’s armed forces and security agencies. The subsidiary was shut down in May this year. The men were believed to have been overseeing the induction of Italian-made midget stealth submarines into the Qatari Navy.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar met the families of the eight men on October 30 and assured them that the government would make all efforts to secure their release. Jaishankar also reiterated the priority attached by the government to the matter.

India has also launched quiet efforts to find a resolution to the issue. The country’s former envoy to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, currently joint secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, is understood to be playing a key role in these efforts.Appeal filed against death sentence to 8 ex-navy men by Qatar court: MEA


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