Qatar court drops death sentence for eight Indians, New Delhi says

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -A Qatar court has dropped the death sentence imposed on eight Indian former naval officers arrested there last year, India’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

The eight men, who were condemned to death in October, had been accused of spying for Israel according to sources – though India and Qatar have not confirmed the charges.

India’s foreign ministry did not say what new sentence or penalty the men would now face.

It “noted the verdict today of the Court of Appeal of Qatar” in which the sentences “have been reduced”.

“We are in close touch with the legal team as well as the family members to decide on the next steps,” and will “continue to take up the matter with the Qatari authorities,” it added.

It declined to comment on the case further “due to the confidential and sensitive nature of proceedings”.

Qatar and Israel’s embassies in New Delhi did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

India expressed shock when Qatar’s Court of First Instance imposed the death penalty on the eight men who were working on a submarine project with a private company for the Qatari authorities.

More than 800,000 Indian citizens live and work in Qatar, which is also a significant provider of natural gas for India.

(Reporting by Krishn Kaushik and Tanvi Mehta; editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Andrew Heavens)