Former Indian Naval Officers in Qatar Face Prison Terms, Not Death Penalty

Eight former Indian naval officers, previously sentenced to death in Qatar, now confront varying prison terms, marking a significant development in a case that drew international attention. The specifics of the charges against the individuals have not been disclosed by Qatar or India, but sources suggest they were accused of spying for Israel.

Qatar’s court had last month commuted their death penalties, leading to India revealing that the legal team now has access to the court order, which remains confidential. Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal stated in a press briefing that the death sentences have been converted into prison terms, and the individuals have 60 days to appeal the judgment in Qatar’s highest court, the Court of Cassation. The duration of the prison sentences was not disclosed.

The arrest of these individuals in 2022 had sparked significant concern, with India expressing shock over the initial death sentences in October 2023. The Indian government, labeling them as employees of Al Dahra, a private company, has faced challenges in navigating this diplomatic test. Foreign Minister S Jaishankar acknowledged them as “ex-servicemen” in parliament. The families of some of the men have confirmed their identities and naval background to local media. The case continues to evolve, with the legal team now considering the next course of action.