New Delhi: Eight former Indian Navy officers were handed the death penalty by a court in Qatar on Thursday in an alleged case of espionage. The verdict has sparked outrage in India, with New Delhi calling it “deeply shocking” and saying that it is exploring all legal options.
The eight men, who were all working for a private firm called Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, were arrested by the Qatari intelligence agency from Doha on August 30, 2022.
The names of the former Navy officers are Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh.
Along with them, Qatar charged two Qataris in this case. They are former Oman air force officer Khamis al-Ajmi, who is also the CEO of Dahra Global, and the head of Qatar’s international military operations, Major General Tariq Khalid Al Obaidly.
India Sentinels is not aware of their fate.
The charges against them have not been made public, but as India Sentinels reported earlier this year, they have been accused of spying for Israel and divulged information regarding a supre-secret submarine project that Qatar was undertaking with Italian technology.
Qatari authorities said they hold electronic evidence in the matter.
The men’s trial began in March 2023, and their bail pleas were rejected multiple times. The trial was held in secret, and the defendants were not allowed to have lawyers present, according to some reports.
On Thursday, a Qatari court of first instance passed its verdict, sentencing the eight men to death. The judgment has been met with shock and outrage in India, with many people calling it a travesty of justice.
On the development, the Indian foreign ministry said it was “deeply concerned” about the verdict and that it is exploring all legal options to save the lives of the eight men. The government has also said that it is in touch with the Qatari authorities and that it is working to secure the men’s release.
The case of the eight Indian former naval officers has raised serious concerns about human rights and the rule of law in Qatar. The men were arrested and detained without charge for over a year with reports saying they were denied access to lawyers and fair trial rights.
The death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment, and it is particularly concerning that it has been handed down in this case, where the men were supposedly not given a fair trial.
India reacts sharply
The death sentence handed to the eight Indian former naval officers has sparked outrage in India. The foreign ministry called the verdict “deeply shocking” and said that it is exploring all legal options.
Opposition political parties have also condemned the verdict, with many calling for the government to take strong action to secure the release of the eight men.
The Indian public has also reacted with shock and anger to the verdict. Many people have taken to social media to express their solidarity with the eight men and their families.
The international community has also expressed concern about the death sentence handed to the eight Indian former naval officers. The United States has said it was “monitoring the situation closely” and was “concerned” about the “allegations of due process violations”.
The United Kingdom also said it was “concerned” about the case and was in “in touch” with the Qatari authorities.
The eight former Indian Navy officers can now approach the Qatari court of appeal against their death sentence. If they fail, they can appeal to Qatar's court of cassation, which is the kingdom’s highest court.
If they fail even there, they can file a mercy petition before Qatar’s emir for the commutation of their death sentence.