Qatar: Indian ex-naval officers get ‘varying’ jail terms

Handcuffed hands seen behind prison bars
Image caption,Neither Qatar nor India have revealed the specific charges against the men

By Meryl Sebastian

BBC News, Kochi

Eight former Indian naval officers who were earlier sentenced to death in Qatar now face prison sentences of “varying” lengths, India has said.

The men have 60 days to appeal the jail terms. Last month, a court in Qatar had commuted their death penalties.

Neither Qatar nor India have revealed the specific charges against the men.

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

India, Qatar and Israel have not commented on this. The court orders in the matter have also not been made public. India has been issuing statements about the major developments in the case, which was seen as a diplomatic test for the government.


In a press briefing on Thursday, Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said that the legal team of the men now have access to the court order commuting their death sentences, adding that it was a “confidential document”.

“What we can tell you, confirm to you is, that the death penalty has now been converted into varying prison sentences for the eight Indian nationals,” he said, adding that they have 60 days to appeal the judgement in the Court of Cassation, Qatar’s highest court. He did not disclose the quantum of the jail terms.

“It is for the legal team now to decide the next course of action,” he said.

In October 2023, India had said it was “deeply shocked” after the Court of First Instance in Qatar sentenced the men to death.

The foreign ministry said it would explore all legal options and later filed an appeal against the sentence.

The arrest of the men had made front-page headlines in India in 2022.

The Indian government has described the eight men in a statement as employees of a private company called Al Dahra, but they have been widely reported to be former personnel of the Indian Navy.

In parliament, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar described them as “ex-servicemen” of the country. The families of some of the men have also confirmed their identities and background in the Navy to local media.

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