Qatar releases eight Indian Navy veterans previously sentenced to deathtext_fields
New Delhi: India announced on Monday that the eight Indian Navy veterans, previously sentenced to death in Qatar, have been released.
Seven of them have returned to India, as confirmed by the Ministry of External Affairs in an official statement.
The individuals - Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal, and Sailor Ragesh - were employed by the private company Dahra Global and were in Qatar for the introduction of Italian U212 stealth submarines into the Qatari Emiri Naval Force in personal capacities.
In a move shrouded in mystery, on August 30, 2022, eight men were arrested and placed in solitary confinement by Qatar's intelligence agency, suspected of espionage.
On October 1, 2022, the Indian Ambassador in Doha and Deputy Head of Mission met with the navy veterans. Two days later, the first consular access was granted, and the CEO of Dahra Global, attempting to aid his officials, was also arrested but later released on bail after spending two months in solitary confinement.
March 1, 2023, marked the rejection of multiple bail pleas for the veterans. On March 25, charges were officially filed against the eight men. The trial, following Qatari law, began on March 29.
Dahra Global ceased its operations in Doha on May 30, leading to the return of its former employees, primarily Indians, to their home country.
August 4 witnessed a shift for the arrested men from solitary confinement to a jail ward with their colleagues, with two men in each cell. On October 26, a Qatar court sentenced all eight men to death.
India filed an appeal with Qatar against the death penalty for the eight former Navy personnel on November 9, 2022. On November 23, the court accepted India's appeal against the death penalty.
On December 28, India announced that the eight ex-Navy personnel would now face commuted punishments. Now, after one and a half months, they have returned to India.