MEA appeals against judgement on case involving 8 Indians on death row in Qatar

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi. Photo: IANS/Twitter

New Delhi: An appeal has been filed against the death sentence handed down to eight former Indian Navy personnel by a Qatari court last month, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Indian embassy in Doha received another consular access to the detained Indians on Tuesday and that New Delhi will continue to extend all legal and consular support to them.

The eight former Indian Navy personnel were on October 26 given death sentence by Qatar's Court of First Instance. India described the ruling as "deeply" shocking and vowed to explore all legal options in the case.

"As we have informed earlier, the Court of First Instance of Qatar passed a judgement on October 26 in the case involving eight Indian employees of Al Dahra company," Bagchi said.

"The judgement is confidential and has only been shared with the legal team. They are now pursuing further legal steps, and an appeal has been filed. We will also remain engaged with the Qatari authorities on this matter," he said.

The appeal has been filed by the legal team of the detained Indian nationals. "On November 7, our embassy (in Doha) received another consular access to the detainees. We are in touch with the family members too, and the external affairs minister met them earlier this month in New Delhi," Bagchi said.

"We will continue to extend all legal and consular assistance. I would urge everyone not to engage in speculation considering the sensitive nature of the case," he said.

The Indian nationals, who worked with private company Al Dahra, were arrested in August last year, reportedly in an alleged case of espionage. Neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi made the charges against the Indian nationals public.

In its reaction to the ruling by the Qatari court, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) last month said that it is attaching "high importance" to this case and is exploring all legal options.

The charges were filed against the eight Indian Navy veterans on March 25, and they were tried under Qatari law.

All of the former Navy officers had "unblemished stints" of up to 20 years in the Indian Navy and had held important positions, including that of instructors in the force, former military officials had said. In May, Al-Dhara Global closed its operations in Doha, and all those working there (primarily Indians) have since returned home.

In the past, the Navy had taken up the case of former naval personnel with top brass of the government to secure their release. 

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