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Indian ex-Navy veterans, facing death sentence in Oct, return from Qatar

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Shailesh Khanduri
New Update
Ex-Navy veterans return to India

Delhi: In a major diplomatic win, all eight former Indian Navy veterans were acquitted and seven of them returned India on Monday months after the death sentence pronounced by a Qatari court in espionage case.

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All the veterans thanked the efforts made by Indian government and personal interest shown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Last month, the veterans were given 60 days' time to appeal against the varying prison terms handed by a Qatari court that came following commutation of their death sentences.

The Court of Appeal in Qatar on December 28 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.

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The Navy veterans were on October 26 given death sentences by Qatar's Court of First Instance.

The Indian nationals, who worked with private company Al Dahra, were arrested in August last year reportedly in an alleged case of espionage.

Neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi made the charges against the Indian nationals public.

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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 upto 20 years in the Indian Navy and had held important positions including that of instructors in the force.

In May Al-Dhara 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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