How can the 2015 treaty with Qatar hold hope for Indian Navy veterans?

A court in Qatar convicted the eight men in October.

New Delhi:

A convict transfer treaty could help eight Indian Navy veterans on death row in Qatar. The men, who were sentenced to death by a Qatari court in October on as-yet-unknown charges, had their sentences commuted today. Details of the new penalty are unclear because the ruling has not yet been issued. If they are sentenced to long prison terms, they could be transferred to India under a 2015 treaty, a retired navy officer said.

Former Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash, who has raised questions about the Qatar issue, said on social media that the 2015 treaty could provide a respite for Navy veterans, some of whom were high-ranking officers.

“Under the 2015 agreement, convicted individuals can be repatriated to serve their sentence at home. Indian Navy veterans should have their sentences commuted or receive a pardon and activate this agreement,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday.

In December 2014, the Union Cabinet gave the green light to the treaty with Qatar, under which Indian prisoners imprisoned in Qatar or vice versa can be transferred to their country so that they can stay close to their families.

The treaty was signed with Qatar in 2015 during the visit of Qatari Foreign Minister Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah to India.

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“Under this agreement, Indian prisoners convicted in Qatar can be brought to India to serve the remaining part of their sentence.

Likewise, Qatari citizens convicted in India can be sent home to serve their sentence. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that this agreement will enable the sentenced persons to be close to their families and will assist in their social rehabilitation process.

Qatar is one of more than 30 countries with which India has concluded such an agreement.

A court in Qatar convicted the eight men in October. They have been in prison since August last year and the charges against them have not been announced. The families denied allegations of spying for Israel. They also said they would file an appeal immediately, a process that could take three months. The sources said that any possibility of a royal pardon could not be considered until after the appeal ruling was issued.

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