New Delhi: The Indian ambassador to Qatar met on December 3 eight former Indian Navy personnel who were handed death sentence by a Qatari court in October, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said two hearings on the appeal against the death sentence have already taken place.
“We are closely following the matter and extending all legal and consular assistance…Our ambassador got consular access to meet all eight of them in prison on December 3,” Bagchi said at a media briefing.
The Indian nationals were given consular access earlier as well.
The Navy veterans 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.
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 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 the former naval personnel with top brass of the government for securing their release.