New Delhi on Wednesday expressed its shock after eight former Indian Navy officers were sentenced to death by a court in Qatar for spying.
India’s External Affairs Ministry said that the Court of First Instance of Qatar on Wednesday passed judgment in the case that involved eight Indian employees of a company that provides training and related services to the Gulf country's armed services.
The charges against the men have not been made public by either the Qatari or Indian authorities but media reports say they were convicted under espionage laws.
Qatar's Interior Ministry has not responded to The National’s request for comment on the sentencing.
“We are deeply shocked by the verdict of the death penalty and are awaiting the detailed judgment. We are in touch with the family members and the legal team, and we are exploring all legal options,” the Indian ministry said.
The eight former Indian Navy personnel included decorated officers who were working for Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services.
The group was reportedly working on a sensitive project to build midget submarines with stealth capabilities.
They were accused of spying on behalf of Israel, according to media reports, and were arrested in August last year. They had their first trial in March.
New Delhi was given consular access to the eight prisoners and had tried to secure their release, to no avail.
The ministry said that it would take up the court’s verdict with Qatari authorities and work to secure the release of its citizens.
“We attach high importance to this case and have been following it closely. We will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also take up the verdict with Qatari authorities,” the ministry said.
“Due to the confidential nature of proceedings of this case, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this juncture.”