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Reprieve for 8 Navy vets on death row in Qatar | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: The eight Indian Navy veterans facing the death penalty in Qatar were reprieved on Thursday as a higher court commuted their sentences to an unspecified number of years in prison. Taking note of the verdict by the court of appeal of Qatar in the Dahra Global (the company they were employed with) case, in which the sentences were “reduced”, the Indian government said it would continue to take up the matter with Qatari authorities and extend all legal and consular assistance to the accused.
While the government will hope that the men will be acquitted outright, the commutation of sentences may also allow India’s 2015 agreement with Qatar for transfer of sentenced persons to come into play. Under the agreement, prisoners can be repatriated to their home country to serve the remaining sentence there.

The verdict on Thursday came in what was the fourth hearing of the appeal against the death sentence awarded to the eight ex-Navymen by a lower court on October 26. India had said it was deeply shocked by the sentence. While Qatar never revealed the nature of charges against them, it is believed they were held for passing on sensitive information to Israel about a Qatari submarine project.

PM Narendra Modi had met Qatar Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who is known to pardon prisoners in the holy month of Ramzan, on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai earlier this month. While Modi tweeted a day later that he discussed the well-being of the 800,000-strong Indian community in Qatar with the emir, the government remained silent on whether he specifically raised the issue of the Navy veterans with him.
In its reaction to the development on Thursday, the government said the detailed judgment was awaited and that it was in close touch with the legal team as well as the family members to decide on the next steps.
“Our ambassador to Qatar (Vipul) and other officials were present in the court of appeal today, along with the family members. We have stood by them since the beginning of the matter, and we will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also continue to take up the matter with the Qatari authorities,” it said.
“Due to the confidential and sensitive nature of proceedings of this case, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this juncture,” it added.
The case has been marked by complete secrecy since the eight men were detained last year, with both governments reluctant to talk in public about the charges against them. They were kept in solitary confinement for months after they were detained in August 2022. Qatar, however, allowed consular access to them on several occasions.
Watch Qatar court commutes death penalty of 8 ex-Navy officers to jail terms



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