Former Indian Navy personnel have 60 days to appeal against their sentence

In a recent development in the case of eight former Indian Navy personnel sentenced to prison terms in Qatar, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced that the legal team representing the individuals has been granted a 60-day window to file an appeal in the Court of Cassation, the highest court in Qatar. This decision follows the appellate court’s commutation of their death sentences to varying prison terms ranging from 3 to 25 years.

MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal emphasized that the matter is currently pending in the Qatari court system. Jaiswal refrained from disclosing the detailed judgment, citing the sensitivity and legal nature of the issue. While confirming the commutation of the death penalties, he noted that the legal team is working diligently to determine the next course of action and is in constant communication with the affected families.

Qatar Court Grants 60-Day Appeal Window for Former Indian Navy Personnel

60-Day Appeal Window for Former Indian Navy Personnel

The 60-day period for filing an appeal is a crucial window for the legal team to thoroughly review the case, assess grounds for appeal, and prepare necessary documentation. Jaiswal clarified that the commencement of this period is likely to be counted from December 28, the day of the appellate court’s order. However, he acknowledged that the specific details would be addressed by the legal team in Qatar.

The eight former Navy personnel, comprising seven officers and one sailor, faced death sentences, which were subsequently reduced to varying prison terms. The sentences range from 3 years to 25 years, with one individual receiving the most lenient sentence of three years and another facing the harshest penalty of 25 years. The nature of their work with Doha-based Al Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a defense services provider company, adds complexity to the case.

The individuals were arrested in August 2022, with charges against them not being publicly disclosed by Qatari authorities. According to reports from the UK daily Financial Times, they were accused of spying for Israel. The legal proceedings began in October last year, resulting in death sentences, prompting India to file an appeal against the verdict.

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Six hearings have taken place thus far, split between the court of appeal and the lower court. The MEA has maintained close involvement in the case, with the Indian Ambassador and officials attending court proceedings, demonstrating India’s commitment to providing consular and legal assistance to its citizens.

The case gained international attention when, on December 3, the Indian Ambassador in Doha met the incarcerated individuals for the first time since their sentencing to death. This meeting followed discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani during the COP28 summit in Dubai on December 1.

The legal team’s access to a copy of the court order, marked as confidential, is a crucial step toward understanding the grounds for the commuted sentences and formulating a robust appeal strategy. The MEA’s assurance to continue supporting the affected individuals, both legally and consularly, underscores India’s commitment to safeguarding the rights of its citizens abroad.

As the legal proceedings progress, the families of the former Navy personnel remain in constant communication with the legal team, awaiting further developments in this complex and sensitive case. The upcoming 60-day period is pivotal in determining the trajectory of the appeal process and the fate of these individuals who find themselves entangled in a high-stakes legal battle in a foreign jurisdiction.

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