A Qatari court has recently released eight former Indian naval officers who were previously on death row for unspecified charges. As reported by Financial Times and Reuters, the men were initially charged with spying for Israel. The specifics of the charges, however, were not disclosed by either Qatar or India.
According to statements from Delhi’s foreign ministry on Monday, seven of the released individuals have already returned to India. This follows January’s announcement where Qatari authorities revealed that the death sentences of the officers had been commuted to prison terms of varying lengths.
The former naval officers were reported to have been working for Dahra Global, a private firm based in Qatar. The lack of transparency surrounding their arrest and initial sentencing had sparked concerns and garnered significant attention in both India and international media.
Delhi’s foreign ministry expressed gratitude for the decision by the Amir of the State of Qatar to release and facilitate the return of these individuals to their home country. This decision marks a positive step in resolving the diplomatic and legal complexities surrounding their case.
India had previously reacted strongly to the initial sentencing, with officials expressing shock and concern over the fate of their citizens. Following the announcement of the death sentences last October, the Indian foreign ministry had vowed to explore all legal avenues to secure the release of the men and subsequently filed an appeal against the verdict.
The arrest and subsequent legal proceedings against the former naval officers had captured widespread attention in India, with their plight making headlines across the nation in 2022. The recent development of their release signals a potential resolution to a contentious issue that had strained diplomatic relations between India and Qatar.