In a huge relief, an appellate court in Qatar has commuted the death sentence of eight former Indian Navy personnel, arrested in an alleged case of espionage in August 2022.

"We have noted the verdict today of the Court of Appeal of Qatar in the Dahra Global case, in which the sentences have been reduced," the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The appellate court verdict is also seen as a big diplomatic win for India as it comes weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai.

After the meeting on December 1, Modi said they discussed the well-being of the Indian community in Qatar.

The Indian nationals, who were working with Doha-based Al Dahra Global Technologies, were taken into custody in August 2022. While the charges against them were not made public by Qatari authorities, they were sentenced to death by Qatar's Court of First Instance in October this year.

The private firm provided training and other services to Qatar's armed forces and security agencies.

India had moved the Court of Appeal in Qatar against the death sentence last month.

"Our Ambassador to Qatar and other officials were present in the Court of Appeal today, along with the family members. We have stood by them since the beginning of the matter and we will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also continue to take up the matter with the Qatari authorities," the statement said.

Noting that a detailed judgment was awaited, the ministry said it was in close touch with the legal team as well as the family members to decide on the next steps.

"Due to the confidential and sensitive nature of proceedings of this case, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this juncture," the MEA said.

Among the eight veterans, Captain Navtej Gill was awarded the President's Gold Medal for excellence when he graduated from the Naval Academy and later served as an instructor at the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in Tamil Nadu.

The others are Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commanders Purnendu Tiwari, Amit Nagpal, SK Gupta, BK Verma, Sugunakar Pakala, and Sailor Ragesh.

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by staff)