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Qatar commutes death sentence of former Indian Navy officers

  • By Meryl Sébastien
  • BBC News, Kochi

Image source, Getty Images

Legend,

Neither Qatar nor India has revealed the specific charges against the men.

A court in Qatar has commuted the death sentences of eight former Indian naval officers, India’s foreign ministry said.

A press release from the ministry indicates that the “penalties have been reduced”, but does not specify what new sanction they will face.

Neither Qatar nor India has revealed the specific charges against the men.

FT and Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources, that the men were accused of spying for Israel.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in India declined to comment, saying it was “not an Israeli issue.”

“Due to the confidential and sensitive nature of the proceedings relating to this matter, it would not be appropriate to make any further comments at this stage,” India’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

In October, India said it was “deeply shocked” after the men were sentenced to death. She later appealed the court’s verdict.

The men’s arrest last year made headlines in India, but there is little confirmed information about the charges against them: the court order has not been made public.

The Indian government said the eight men were employees of a private company called Al Dahra, but it was widely reported that they were former members of the Indian Navy. Last year in Parliament, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar described them as “ex-servicemen” of the country. The families of some of the men also confirmed their identities and navy backgrounds to local media.

Earlier this month, India’s ambassador to Qatar met the men in prison.

On Thursday, India said its ambassador and other officials were present at Qatar’s Court of Appeal alongside the men’s family members during the hearing.

“The detailed judgment is awaited. We are in close contact with the legal team as well as family members to decide the next steps,” the ministry statement added.

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