Highlights

  • Govt on Qatar court verdict in spying case
  • Next move after studying verdict: MEA
  • Death penalty of 8 Indians dropped

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Death sentence dropped: govt says next move after studying Qatar verdict

It is learnt that the prison terms handed to the former Indian Navy personnel range from three years to 25 years.

Death sentence dropped: govt says next move after studying Qatar verdict

A day after a Qatari court dropped the death sentences given to eight former Indian Navy personnel, India on Friday said it will explore the next possible steps in the case after studying the verdict and holding discussions with their legal team and family members.

The Court of Appeal in Qatar commuted the death penalty handed down to the Indians and sentenced them to prison for varying durations on Thursday, weeks after their family members filed an appeal against the earlier order by another court.

The Navy veterans were sentenced to death by Qatar's Court of First Instance on October 26.

"For the moment, I do not have any additional information to share till we see the judgment," Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at his weekly media briefing.

"The sentences have been reduced. But till we have the details, I do not want to comment. We will, of course, be discussing the next possible steps with the legal team and the family members," he said while responding to a volley of questions.

It is learnt that the prison terms handed to the former Indian Navy personnel range from three years to 25 years.

"We would urge you again not to engage in speculation. The interests of Indians and their family members is our foremost concern," Bagchi said.

The MEA said on Thursday that the Qatari court had reduced the sentences of the Indians.

"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," the ministry said.

The Indian nationals, who worked for private company Al Dahra, were arrested in August last year reportedly in a case of espionage.

Neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi made the charges against them public.

Bagchi was asked whether the commutation of the death sentences makes it possible for India to invoke a 2015 pact with Qatar on the transfer of sentenced persons.

The pact provides for the citizens of India and Qatar who have been convicted and sentenced for criminal offences to serve their sentences in their home country.

"Yes, there is such an agreement. However, I am not sure whether such an agreement requires ratification by both sides and I would have to check whether the Qatari side has ratified it or not," the MEA spokesperson said.

It has been learnt that Qatar is yet to ratify the pact.

India has entered into prisoner-transfer treaties with many countries that allow a person convicted of a crime to be transferred to his or her home country to serve the prison sentence.

The charges were filed against the eight Navy veterans on March 25 and they were tried under Qatari law.

All the former officers had "unblemished stints" of up to 20 years in the Indian Navy and held important positions, including that of instructors, in the force.

Al Dahra Global closed its operations in Doha in May and all those working there (primarily Indians) have since returned home.


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