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Indian envoy meets 8 Navy veterans on death row after Qatar grants consular access

"Our ambassador got consular access to meet all 8 of them in prison on 3rd December. This is a sensitive issue, but we will continue to follow and whatever we can share, we will do so," said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.

Indian envoy meets 8 Navy veterans on death row after Qatar grants consular access snt
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First Published Dec 7, 2023, 5:24 PM IST

In a significant diplomatic development, India's Ambassador to Qatar met with eight ex-Navy personnel sentenced to death in October, under mysterious circumstances. The meeting, held on December 3, addressed concerns over consular access to the individuals, whose appeal against the death sentence is currently under legal scrutiny. The incident has gained attention against the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with Qatar's ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, during the CoP28 summit in Dubai.

External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi confirmed that India's Ambassador secured consular access to meet the imprisoned sailors. The government is closely monitoring the legal proceedings and has held two hearings since filing the appeal against the death sentence. The next hearing is anticipated soon, indicating the gravity of the matter and India's commitment to ensuring due process.

Also read: Qatar court accepts India's appeal against death penalty to ex-Navy officers: Report

"You would have seen Prime Minister Modi meet Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad, the Amir of Qatar in Dubai on the sidelines of CoP28. They've had a good conversation on the overall bilateral relationship as well as in the well-being of the Indian community," said Bagchi on Thursday.

He further added, "There have been 2 hearings. We filed an appeal, from the families, and the detainees had a final appeal. 2 hearings have since been held. We are closely following the matter and extending all legal and consular assistance. Meanwhile, our ambassador got consular access to meet all 8 of them in prison on 3rd December. This is a sensitive issue, but we will continue to follow and whatever we can share, we will do so."

The Ambassador's meeting with the naval personnel is perceived as a positive step, addressing concerns about consular access. The move aligns with diplomatic efforts to engage with Qatar on the matter, especially in the aftermath of Prime Minister Modi's meeting with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. While the specifics of the meeting between the two leaders remain undisclosed, it suggests that the issue has been directly taken up at the highest diplomatic levels.

The eight ex-Navy officers were arrested in August last year by Qatar's intelligence agency on charges of espionage, allegedly for spying on behalf of Israel. The individuals, including decorated naval commanders who once led major Indian warships, were working for Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a private firm providing training and services to Qatar's armed forces.

Also read: MASSIVE! PM Modi announces renaming of the rank structure in Indian Navy (WATCH)

The sailors, accused of working on a sensitive project related to stealth submarines based on Italian technology, have faced allegations of spying for Israel. However, both the arrested personnel and their families vehemently deny the charges. The families insist that the individuals went to Qatar to contribute to the nation's security and build its navy, refuting any proof of espionage.

India formally appealed against the death sentence on November 24, prompting a positive response from the Qatari court. The government has expressed deep shock at the severity of the verdict and is committed to providing legal and consular assistance. The case remains sensitive, but India is determined to navigate through diplomatic channels and legal proceedings to ensure a just resolution.

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