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Legal Prospects For 8 Indian Navy Veterans Sentenced To Death In Qatar

Story Highlights
  • Veterans who were in solitary confinement could go outside and enjoy the sun at certain times, but no one else could see them.
  • They were locked up alone until about March of this year, when they were put in cells with other prisoners.

On Sunday, a full court order will be made public, which will help the Indian government decide the best way to move forward for the eight Indian Navy veterans who were sentenced to death in Qatar.

“On Sunday, the detailed order will come, and we will decide what to do next based on that.”

The specific order will not be made public, but people who have a stake in the case will be able to see it.

Sources say that the next step for the eight veterans who are in jail—seven retired officers and one former sailor—is to go to Qatar’s Court of Appeal. That is the next step they will have to take if that doesn’t work out.

If none of their appeals work, they will have to go to the Emir of Qatar, who can release any prisoner or change their punishment.

But the Emir only forgives people on certain days, like Eid and December 18, which is Qatar’s National Day.

Sources say that Indian officials are in close contact with Qatari officials about the case and are hoping that the review process will be finished on time.

“The Qatari agency arrested them because they thought they were doing something bad, which could have been caused by a country that doesn’t like us.” The case has to follow the law and order process in that country, just like in India, once it starts. Another source said, “We are in close contact with the authorities there and hope to bring the veterans back.”

It is thought that the last hope is that the close ties between India and Qatar will help bring the soldiers back in the end.

Why were veterans detained and arrested?

Although the veterans’ charges have not been made public, sources have confirmed that they are being accused of leaking sensitive information. The veterans are Captain Navtej Singh Gill (retd), Captain Saurabh Vasisht (retd), Commander Purnendu Tiwari (retd), Captain Birendra Kumar Verma (retd), Commander Sugunakar Pakala (retd), Commander Sanjeev Gupta (retd), Commander Amit Nagpal (retd), and former sailor Ragesh.

They used to work for the private company Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, which was run by an Omani man who was arrested last year but later released.

The company used to work on projects with the military forces of Qatar.

Sources say that the members of the Indian Navy were arrested by the State Security Bureau of the Qatari Ministry of Interior on August 30, 2018, because they were thought to have shared vague information with people they weren’t supposed to have.

They also said that this suspicion could have been stoked by a country with close links to Qatar that is not friendly with India.

Because the matter was so sensitive, the sources wouldn’t go into more detail about the suspicion. They also made it clear that the claims of spying for a third country were strongly denied.

By the way, the navy officer who was India’s defense attaché in Qatar returned to India earlier this year, before the end of his term.

Faced solitary confinement & ‘torture’

Insiders say that when the eight soldiers were picked up in August of last year, they didn’t know that the others had also been picked up. All of them were locked up alone for a few months.

Based on what the sources said, the soldiers were “tortured” by the Qatari intelligence officers while they were locked up. They wouldn’t give any more information about the claimed torture.

They said that the eight soldiers were given all the medical help and medicines they needed for their illnesses, which ranged from diabetes to high blood pressure.

From what the sources say, none of the veterans knew that the others had been held until Qatar let the men see a consular officer last October.

They were locked up alone until about March of this year, when they were put in cells with other prisoners.

Veterans who were in solitary confinement could go outside and enjoy the sun at certain times, but no one else could see them. The sources said that at first they weren’t allowed to make phone calls, but finally they were allowed to make two calls a week. In January, the spouses of the veterans were also allowed to meet them.

About 7 lakh Indians live in Qatar, making it the country with the largest expat group in the country.

By the way, officer Purnendu Tiwari, who is currently in jail and was managing director of Dahra Global, won the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2019 for his work to improve ties between India and Qatar.

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