The Ministry of External Affairs on December 7 that India’s Ambassador in Qatar had consular access on December 3 to meet all eight ex-Navy personnel in prison who were sentenced to death in Qatar and two hearings have been held on their appeal.
In a weekly media briefing on Thursday, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi, said that since the detainees filed an appeal, two hearings have already been held.
“There have been two hearings. We filed an appeal, with the families, and the detainees had a final appeal. Two hearings have since been held. One was on November 30 and the other was on November 23rd. I think the next hearing is coming up soon,” Bagchi said.
The eight Indians are former Indian Navy personnel who were detained in Qatar for over a year. They were sentenced to death by Qatar’s Court of First Instance in October, 2023. Sharing the update on the case further, the MEA spokesperson said that it is a sensitive issue and India is extending all legal and consular assistance.
“We are closely following the matter and extending all legal and consular assistance. Meanwhile, our ambassador got consular access to meet all eight in prison on December 3. And, as I said, this is a sensitive issue, but we will continue to follow and whatever we can share, we will do so,” he added.
The MEA spokesperson also highlighted the recent meeting that took place between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad and said that they have had a good conversation on the overall bilateral relationship.
“You would have seen Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet the Emir of Qatar in Dubai on the sidelines of COP28 …I think he put out a tweet. My understanding is that we have had a good conversation on the overall bilateral relationship as well as the well-being of the Indian community,” Bagchi said further.
On October 30, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met with the families of eight Indians detained in Qatar and assured them that the government would make all efforts to secure their release.
The EAM said that the government attaches the “highest importance” to the case and will coordinate closely with the families in that regard. The eight Indian nationals have been imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022 and were accused of allegedly spying on a submarine programme. The retired naval personnel were sentenced to death by a Qatar court on charges that have not yet been made public officially.
New Delhi had been granted consular access to the eight Indians and had been working to secure their release. The Indian nationals had their first trial in late March. The Court of First Instance of Qatar passed the judgement against them, according to a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Qatar has also yet to provide details of the charges against the former Naval officers, nor has the order of the Court of First instance been shared with the families of the former Naval officers.