The eight jailed former Indian Navy personnel in Qatar have been given 60 days to appeal against the varying prison terms handed by a Qatari court last week, which came following the commutation of their death sentences, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.
On December 28, the Court of Appeal in Qatar commuted the death sentence handed down to the Indians in October and sentenced them to prison for varying durations, weeks after their family members filed an appeal against the earlier order by another court.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said the legal team of the Indian nationals received a copy of the court order that he described as a “confidential document”.
“On December 28, the Court of Appeal had given a judgment. Thereafter, we issued a press release giving details (and) stating that the death penalty has been reduced. Now, we have the judgment order, which is a confidential document,” he said.
Mr Jaiswal was responding to a question.
“The court has given 60 days for the appeal to be made before the Court of Cassation, which is the highest court in Qatar. And it is for the legal team now to decide the next course of action. So, that is where we are,” he added.
The spokesperson further added: “What we can confirm to you is that the death penalty has now been converted into varying prison sentences for the eight Indian nationals.”
“We are in touch with the family members. We are also in touch with the legal team,” he said.
It is learnt that the prison terms handed to the former Indian Navy personnel ranged from three years to 25 years.
The Navy veterans were given death sentences by Qatar’s Court of First Instance on October 26.
The Indian nationals, who worked with private company Al Dahra, were arrested in August last year. Neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi made the charges against the Indian nationals public.
The charges were filed against the eight Indian navy veterans on March 25 and they were tried under Qatari law.
All of the former Navy officers had “unblemished stints” of up to 20 years in the Indian Navy and had held important positions including that of instructors in the force.
In May, Al-Dahra Global closed its operations in Doha and all those working there (primarily Indians) have since returned home. It is learnt that India is also looking at the possibility of invoking provisions of a bilateral pact on the transfer of sentenced persons.
The pact signed between India and Qatar in 2015 provides for citizens of India and Qatar who have been convicted and sentenced for criminal offences to serve their sentences in their home country.
However, there was no clarity on whether Qatar had ratified the agreement.
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