Qatar Sentences Eight Retired Indian Naval Officers to Death
The Condemned Are Accused of Espionage
A court in Qatar has handed down a death sentence to eight Indian Navy veterans, convicting them of espionage-related to Qatar's submarine program, Voice of America reported.
The individuals were employed by Al Dahra, a defense consultancy firm working on behalf of the Qatari government in its submarine acquisition program.
Among the accused is Commander Purnendu Tiwari (retired), who previously served as Al Dahra's managing director, as reported by Indian media.
Commander Tiwari, a decorated naval officer with experience commanding Indian warships, had also been honored with India's prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman for his contributions to fostering bilateral relations with Qatar.
While the details of the case have not been made public, the Financial Times suggests that the individuals stand accused of spying on Qatar on behalf of the Israeli government.
Following the arrest of the accused in August 2022, Al Dahra's online presence mysteriously vanished, according to Hindustan Times.
India's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed deep shock at the court's decision and stated that they are awaiting the detailed judgment. They are in close contact with the family members and legal team of the convicted individuals and are actively exploring all available legal options. The Indian government emphasized the significance of the case and its commitment to providing consular and legal assistance to the defendants. They also intend to raise the issue with Qatari authorities.
The relationship between India and Qatar spans various sectors, including trade and defense. India heavily relies on Qatar's state energy company for approximately 40% of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports. Additionally, India contributes a significant portion of the Qatari migrant workforce.
KP Fabian, a former Indian ambassador to Qatar, expressed doubt that Qatar would proceed with the execution of the prisoners. He stated: "[It's] most unlikely," and expressed hope that diplomatic efforts would help resolve the situation amicably, as he was quoted by media.
The verdict has drawn international attention, and further developments in the case are expected to unfold as India and Qatar navigate the complexities of this situation