Qatar court pronounces death penalty for eight Indian Navy veterans, India to challenge order

A court in Qatar handed down death sentences on Thursday (October 26) to eight former Indian Navy personnel who had been jailed in the country for over a year even as a "deeply shocked" Indian government said it is exploring all available legal options to challenge the verdict.

A Qatar court hands down death penalty to eight Indian Navy veterans in a case of espionage. Photo courtesy: Unsplash

Media reports said that the Navy veterans were accused of espionage in connection with a submarine programme allegedly on behalf of Israel. Qatari authorities also claim to possess electronic evidence related to the case.

The Indian Navy veterans, including highly decorated officers who previously commanded important warships of the Indian Navy, were employed by Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a private company that provides training and related services to Qatar's armed forces, said media reports.

Some of them were reportedly engaged in a sensitive project involving Italian technology-based midget submarines with stealth capabilities.

The former Indian Navy officers—Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, and Sailor Ragesh—were arrested by the Qatar intelligence agency in Doha on August 30, 2022, according to an India Today report.

They have been in custody since August 2022, and New Delhi, having been granted consular access, has been actively working to secure their release.

The arrested men underwent trial proceedings in March.

Despite multiple attempts, their bail pleas were rejected by Qatari authorities. The death sentences were announced earlier in the day by a Court of First Instance in Qatar.