A Qatar court has rejected an appeal filed by the Indian government concerning the case of eight former Indian Navy officials sentenced to death by the country’s government.
The Indian nationals, employed by Qatari firm Al Dahra company, were apprehended in August last year under suspicion of espionage for Israel.
This private firm they worked in delivered training and associated services to Qatar’s armed forces and security agencies.
Despite the arrest, the specific charges against the eight were not disclosed by Qatari authorities.
This decision introduces a new layer of complexity to an already sensitive international legal situation.
Earlier, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said that the government had filed an appeal against the death penalty awarded to eight Indians by a Qatari court.
The MEA had said, “The judgment is confidential. There is a court of first instance that gave the judgement which was shared with our legal team. Considering all legal options, an appeal has been filed. We are in touch with the Qatari authorities.”
“We got another round of consular access with the eight Indians on November 7. We are in touch with the family members,” the MEA had said.
“We will continue to extend all legal and consular support and we urge everyone not to engage in speculation considering the sensitive nature of the case,” it added.
Insider information suggests that the Indian government intends to pursue another round of appeals, anticipating a response similar to the previous dismissal.
Despite numerous bail pleas, Qatari authorities repeatedly denied their release, extending their detention.
The espionage case has strained diplomatic relations between India and Qatar, leading to intense discussions and negotiations between the two nations. The rejection of the appeal presents a substantial diplomatic challenge for India, necessitating a delicate balance between legal proceedings and diplomatic efforts to secure a favourable outcome.
The eight who face the death sentence are, Capt Navtej Singh Gill, Capt Birendra Kumar Verma, Capt Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh Gopakumar. They were arrested by Qatar intelligence agency from Doha on August 30, 2022.
Commander (Retd) Purnendu Tiwari, who served as Al Dahra’s managing director and commanded various warships during his naval career, was honoured with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2019. This distinguished accolade, conferred upon overseas Indians, recognised his contributions to enhancing India’s global standing, as affirmed by the Indian Embassy in Doha.
Experts in international law and diplomatic relations anticipate that the Indian government may explore additional avenues, such as seeking the intervention of international organisations or engaging in high-level diplomatic talks to find a resolution.
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