Two hhearings against d death s sentences hheld
New Delhi: India’s ambassador in Qatar was given consular access on December 3 to eight Indian nationals and former naval personnel sentenced to death by a Qatari court in October this year and had met all of them that day, the MEA said on Thursday. At his weekly media briefing, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi did not give any definite reply when asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the matter -- of the death penalty announced by the Qatari court reportedly on espionage charges -- with the Emir (ruler) of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani when the two leaders met on the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai last week, but only said the two leaders had a “good conversation” and that he did not have any “updates” on it.
It may also be recalled that just recently, in a ray of hope, the Qatari Court of Appeal has accepted for hearing and decided to examine the legal appeal filed by the eight Indians against the verdict delivered last month by a Qatari Court of First Instance sentencing them to death. The MEA spokesperson said on Thursday that the “next hearing” (by the Qatari Court of Appeal) will take place soon.
It may be recalled that according to media reports in the past several months, the eight Indians were accused by the tiny oil-rich Gulf nation of spying for Israel on a secret Qatari programme related to stealth submarines. The eight Indians, all former naval personnel, were reportedly employees of an Oman-based company Dahra Global Technologies and Consulting Services, that was advising on a Qatari programme aimed at obtaining high-tech Italian-made submarines that could evade radar detection and providing training for Qatar’s Navy. They were all reportedly picked up from their residences in Qatar in August last year for questioning and subsequently detained before being convicted and sentenced to death in October this year. The charges on which the eight Indians have been given the death sentence have still not been spelt out officially by Qatar and New Delhi too has not stated these in public, while only saying earlier that the charges levelled by Qatar against the eight Indians were first presented as part of the hearings.
New Delhi had also reiterated that the judgment has been made confidential “from the Qatari side” and had earlier said the judgment has been shared with the legal team representing the eight Indians. India had earlier reacted with “deep shock” at the verdict delivered on October 26 this year and said it attaches high importance to the case, is in touch with the family members of the eight Indians, exploring all legal options, and will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance.
The eight Indians in Qatari custody were earlier identified by media reports as (former naval personnel) Navtej Singh Gill, Birendra Kumar Verma, Saurabh Vashisht, Amit Nagpal, Purnendu Tiwari, Sugunakar Pakala, Sanjeev Gupta and Ragesh. Most of them were retired officers of the rank of captain or commander.