New Delhi/Doha: EightIndianformer naval officers who were handed thedeathpenaltyby a courtinQataron Thursday were charged withspyingforIsrael, asourceinIndia and anotherinQatarsaid.
Neither New Delhi nor Doha has officially stated the charges against the eight who were arrestedinAugust 2022.
InIndia, a government official awareofDoha’s stance said the Qatar authorities hadaccusedthemofspyingforIsrael.
The eightIndianswill be able to appeal thedeathsentence, thesourcebriefed on the caseinQatartold Reuters, as well as alsosayingthey had been charged withspyingforIsrael.
Bothsourcesspoke on conditionofanonymitygiventhe sensitivityofthe case.
A spokespersonforIndia’s foreign ministry did not respond to a requestforcomment about thesources’ comments.
There was no immediate reply fromQatar’s foreign ministry.
There was no immediate response from the prime minister’s officeinJerusalem, which overseesIsrael’s intelligence services.
The ruling comes as Doha is trying to negotiate with the Palestinian militant group Hamasforthe releaseofover 200 hostages seized during its Oct. 7 rampageinIsrael, which is pummelling Gaza with aerial strikesinresponse.
The case involving the eightIndians, who were working on a submarine project with a private companyforthe Qatari authorities, could also become a diplomatic headacheforNew Delhi, which depends heavily onQatarforits natural gas needs.
TheIndiangovernment said on Thursday that it was “deeply shocked” thatQatar’s CourtofFirst Instance had awarded thedeathpenaltyto the eightIndians, adding it was “exploring all legal options”.
New Delhi had said that it attaches “high importance to this case” and will “take up the verdict with Qatari authorities”.
The government said it would not comment further due to the “confidential natureofthe proceedings”.
Jairam Ramesh, a spokespersonforIndia’s opposition Congress party urged theIndiangovernment on Thursday to “use its diplomatic and political leverage with theQatargovernment” to do utmost to get them released at the earliest.
More than 800,000Indiancitizens live and workinQatar.
(Published 27 October 2023, 12:46 IST)