Qatari court sentences 8 former Indian navy men to death

Wednesday 01st November 2023 07:28 EDT

A Qatari court last week sentenced to death eight former Indian Navy personnel who were arrested last year on charges that have not yet been made public by local authorities, but are assumed to be - in the absence of any denial by either country - regarding spying. The men were working with a firm called Al Dahra which was involved in training of the Qatari defence forces. The chief of the company, an Omani national, was also arrested but released after a couple of months.

The Indian government said it would raise the issue with Qatari authorities. “We are deeply shocked by the verdict of death penalty and are awaiting the detailed judgment. We are in touch with family members and the legal team and we are exploring all legal options,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement, adding that it would continue to extend all consular and legal assistance to the former naval personnel.

The eight individuals were named as Sailor Ragesh, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Captain Amit Nagpal, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, and Commander Purnendu Tiwari. Before the eight's trial was eventually started in late March of this year, Qatari intelligence had abruptly detained them on August 8, 2022, without disclosing the charges against them. They had been held in solitary confinement for months.

The government refused to speak further on the matter. The case has been marked by complete secrecy from the beginning, although media reports have suggested that Qatar cited electronic intelligence to accuse the Indian men of passing on to Israel sensitive information related to a Qatari-Italian collaboration on a stealth submarine project.

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