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News Room : Qatar frees eight ex-Indian navy officers previously on death row


A Qatari court has released eight former Indian naval officers previously on death row for unspecified charges.

Seven of the men have already returned to India, Delhi’s foreign ministry said on Monday.

In January, authorities said their death penalty had been converted into prison sentences of “varying” lengths. Neither Qatar nor India revealed the charges against the men, who were working for Dahra Global, a private firm in Qatar.

But Financial Times and Reuters have reported that the men were charged with spying for Israel.

“We appreciate the decision by the Amir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals,” Delhi’s foreign ministry said in a statement. The arrest of the men had made front-page headlines in India in 2022.

India said in October last year that it was ‘deeply shocked’ after the Court of First Instance in Qatar sentenced the men to death. The Indian foreign ministry subsequently filed an appeal against the sentence. The conviction of the men briefly disturbed ties between the two countries but experts say sustained diplomatic efforts have resulted in the release of the men. In December, India’s foreign ministry said its ambassador to Qatar had met the men in prison.Later that month, the ministry said the Court of Appeal in Qatar had commuted their death sentences. In January, a ministry spokesperson confirmed the death penalty had been converted into varying prison sentences but did not reveal the quantum of the jail terms.

India and Qatar are close allies. Delhi recently signed a $78bn (£62bn) deal to import liquified natural gas from Doha until the end of 2048.