Sunday, May 19, 2024

Relief for 8 Indian Navy Veterans as Qatar Commutes Death Sentences

Last month, the Qatari court accepted the appeal, leading to the decision to commute the sentences.


In a significant development, the eight ex-Navy personnel who were sentenced to death by a Qatari court in October have received a reprieve. The Indian government announced today that the sentences would be commuted, although the exact nature of the reduced terms remains unclear.

The eight individuals, identified as Purnendu Tiwari, Sugunakar Pakala, Amit Nagpal, Sanjeev Gupta, Navtej Singh Gill, Birendra Kumar Verma, Saurabh Vasisht, and Sailor Ragesh Gopakumar, have been in Qatari jail since August last year on undisclosed charges.

The Indian government has assured that it is actively engaged with the legal team and the families of the veterans to determine the next course of action. “We have stood by them since the beginning, and we will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also continue to take up the matter with Qatari authorities,” a government statement said.

The arrested personnel, who held commanding positions in the Indian Navy, were working for Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, providing training and related services to Qatar’s armed forces.

The families of the eight navy veterans vehemently denied the spying allegations in a conversation with NDTV. According to them, the individuals went to Qatar to contribute to the development of the Qatari Navy and enhance the nation’s security. The families emphasized that there was no evidence to support the allegations of espionage for Israel.

The next steps in the case are currently unclear, but it is noteworthy that, according to a 2015 agreement, Indian prisoners convicted in Qatar can be brought back to India to serve the remaining part of their sentence. A similar provision exists for Qatari citizens convicted in India.

The announcement of the commuted sentences follows an appeal lodged immediately after the death sentences were handed down in October. Last month, the Qatari court accepted the appeal, leading to the decision to commute the sentences.

The navy veterans were sentenced after a brief trial in March, during which bail was consistently denied. The move to commute the sentences comes a few weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with the Qatari ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, on the sidelines of the CoP28 summit in Dubai. While details of the conversation were not disclosed, there is speculation that the issue of the Indian navy veterans’ death sentences may have been raised during the meeting.

The Indian Bugle
The Indian Bugle
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