India’s appeal against the death penalty to eight former Indian Navy personnel, sentenced last month, in an alleged espionage case has reportedly been accepted by a court in Qatar.
According to reports, the Qatari court will review the appeal before scheduling a hearing.
In August 2022, the eight men were arrested by Qatar’s intelligence agency for spying. However, the accusations against them were not made public by the Qatari authorities.
On October 26 the eight Indians were given death sentences by Qatar’s Court of First Instance after their bail petitions were denied multiple times.
After the verdict, India described the ruling as ‘deeply’ shocking and vowed to explore all legal options in the case. Days later, an appeal was filed against the death sentence.
On November 16, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “The appeal process is underway and we hope for a positive outcome.”
Who were the eight Indian officers?
The arrested Indian Navy veterans are Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht and Sailor Rajesh Gopakumar.
They worked at Qatar’s Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services. It is a private company that offers training and various other services to the defence and security agencies of Qatar.
The company, which employed 75 Indian nationals, primarily former Navy officers, was shut down in May 2023, according to Al Jazeera.
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.
This incident of arrest came to light when Meetu Bhargava, sister of Commander Purenendu Tiwari on October 25, 2022, tweeted and appealed to the government for help.
According to Indian Express, on September 30, the men were allowed to contact their families via phone. For many months they were allowed to make calls weekly once. The first visit by an official of the Indian embassy was granted on Sunday, October 1.
In the past, the Navy had taken up the case of former naval personnel with top brass of the government to secure their release.