Qatari Court Frees Former Indian Naval Officers Previously Sentenced to Death

Qatari Court Frees Former Indian Naval Officers Previously Sentenced to Death

After a prolonged legal battle and diplomatic efforts, a Qatari court has released eight former Indian naval officers who were previously sentenced to death for undisclosed charges. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs announced on Monday that seven of the men have already returned to India. In January, authorities revealed that the death penalties had been commuted to varying prison sentences.

The specifics of the charges against the men, who were employed by Dahra Global, a private firm in Qatar, were not disclosed by either Qatar or India. However, according to reports from Financial Times and Reuters, the men were accused of spying for Israel.

Delhi's foreign ministry expressed gratitude for the decision of the Amir of the State of Qatar to facilitate the release of these individuals. The arrest and subsequent sentencing of the men had garnered significant attention in India in 2022, with the Indian government expressing shock at the initial death sentences.

India, a close ally of Qatar, had actively pursued diplomatic channels to secure the release of its nationals. Last year, India's Ministry of External Affairs filed an appeal against the death sentences, leading to sustained diplomatic efforts between the two countries.

In December, India's ambassador to Qatar visited the imprisoned men, and later that month, the Court of Appeal in Qatar commuted their death sentences. The final decision to convert the sentences into prison terms was confirmed in January, although the exact lengths of these sentences were not disclosed by the ministry spokesperson.

Despite initial tensions arising from the conviction of the men, experts note that the relationship between India and Qatar remains strong, highlighted by recent agreements such as the $78 billion deal for liquefied natural gas imports from Doha until 2048.

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