34 C
Doha
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Qatar court scraps death penalty for Filipino convicted of spying

-

Appeals court
Appeals court

An espionage conviction against three Filipino men was upheld by Qatar’s Court of Appeals this morning despite a defense lawyer’s argument that there was no evidence that the men were spies.

However, a judge reduced their sentences following the year-long appeal hearing.

One man initially facing death was given a life sentence in prison, which in Qatar means a 25-year jail term. His two co-defendants had their prison sentences reduced from life to 15 years.

The judge did not articulate the reasons for his decision when reading out the verdict.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The three men were convicted by a lower court in April 2014 of espionage for passing along military and economic secrets to their home government.

The defendant initially sentenced to death was reportedly a lieutenant in the Philippines state security force who worked as a budgeting and contracting supervisor at Qatar Petroleum.

The two men who received life sentences in prison worked as technicians for the Qatar Air Force.

Lack of evidence

The exact nature of the allegations against the trio remains unclear.

The defense lawyer representing the men argued that there was no evidence supporting the espionage charges, beyond a confession that he said was obtained under torture.

Some reports suggested that the men – who were arrested in 2010 – were accused of passing along classified information about Qatar’s aircrafts, weapons and members of its armed forces to intelligence officials in the Philippines.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

But others following the case say the charges relate to economic secrets surrounding Qatar’s offshore oil and gas reserves that somehow ended up in the hands of foreign companies.

Last May, the Philippines government vehemently rejected the accusations as the men’s appeal hearing got underway.

“We categorically deny that we are engaged in espionage,” Philippines Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose said at the time in the country’s first public comments on the issue.

Outside of court today, Wilfredo Santos – the Philippines Ambassador to Qatar – said he “welcomed” the reduced sentences.

Speaking to reporters, he said embassy officials are “prepared to exhaust all necessary legal avenues” but stopped short of explicitly saying that today’s verdict would be appealed to Qatar’s highest court, the Court of Cassation.

Defense arguments

In his closing statement in March, a defense attorney argued that his clients were not involved in anything remotely resembling espionage, and that the only allegations of substance against the lead defendant were of corruption and embezzlement for personal financial gain.

A Qatar Emiri Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighter jet.
A Qatar Emiri Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighter jet.

He suggested in court that the information that the defendants are accused of leaking – such as the helicopter and airplane models purchased by Gulf countries – is publicly available on the internet.

For his part, the prosecutor did not not present any arguments during the appeal trial, which lasted one year and was dominated by procedural issues that prompted the rescheduling of several sessions.

The case has drawn the attention of human rights activists, who had urged the Qatar government to investigate allegations that the men had been tortured while in custody.

Ahead of today’s verdict, Amnesty International published a first-person narrative written by a daughter of one of the convicted men.

The young woman, who is now 17 years old, described how a team of police officers from Qatar’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) came to the family’s house to arrest her father.

She ended with a plea for the Qatar authorities to exonerate her father:

“I ask them to set him free at last and return what they took from us for the past five years. Those men responsible for taking him, torturing him and imprisoning him can correct their mistake now, before it’s too late.”

Thoughts?

39 COMMENTS

Subscribe
Notify of
39 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Doodz
Doodz
5 years ago

Lack of evidence! Oh yeah!!! As far as I know the accuser just assume that something went fishy…..torturing is inhuman… International human rights, calling!!!!

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
5 years ago

It seems that the defendant has admitted corruption and embezzlement for personal gain. This is an admission that he is not an honest man. Why should anybody take his word that he was tortured?

Rapha31
Rapha31
5 years ago
Reply to  al-Lalal

No other evidence presented but a signed confession, which is in Arabic.

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
5 years ago
Reply to  Rapha31

Who told you that?

HalfManArmy
HalfManArmy
5 years ago
Reply to  al-Lalal

“The internet”

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
5 years ago
Reply to  HalfManArmy

Wow! The Internet said that the only evidence was a signed confession in Arabic? Would you care to post a link?

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago
Reply to  HalfManArmy

Well that’s good enough for me

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

The Internet also says that Elvis is alive and that MIMH is not posting because he was abducted by aliens 🙂

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  al-Lalal

I’m not posting on this topic as there is not enough detail to go on. Any comment on guilt or innocence would be pure guess work.

All I can say is the Qatar legal system is not transparent and seems confusing

HalfManArmy
HalfManArmy
5 years ago

Yeah, this one doesn’t get any comments.

Also, why isn’t this covered in Doha News: http://www.ekantipur.com/2015/05/28/top-story/labour-ministry-refutes-guardian-news-report/405812.html ?

Because it portrays Qatar in a good light, that’s why.

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  HalfManArmy

So you don’t think there was some ulterior motive for what the Nepalese official said in denying, most probably just retracting, his statement? Even gov’t officials of these countries feel intimidated.

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Or perhaps there was an ulterior motive to begin with when he made those statement … Or maybe not coz let’s not dare think a Nepalese official is corrupt and was hoping for a hand out and instead got a slap on the wrist

HalfManArmy
HalfManArmy
5 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Doha News is supposed to report the news. Not analyze it. If anything that had an ulterior motive wasn’t posted, there would be no news in the world.

Plus, why do you think there’s an ulterior motive? What’s your evidence?

Saleem
Saleem
5 years ago
Reply to  HalfManArmy

He never needs evidence, he bases it on his sixth sense.

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

Better than having none. And it’s called common, not sixth. Seems to be lacking here.

Saleem
Saleem
5 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

A lot of people would lose their senses if they had to deal with stupidity you display on here on a regular basis. I do hope for your own sake you just troll on here…

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  HalfManArmy

Actually we offer a fair bit of analysis on our site, and context, to help readers understand the news and its implications better. In any case, we’ve updated our previous Nepal earthquake story to reflect that the Labor Ministry (and not the minister himself) has one week later attempted to qualify his statements.

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  HalfManArmy

Why? Because he just pissed off his single biggest, albeit most abusive, employer. these guys unfortunately cower under the local pressure.

Saleem
Saleem
5 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

If you don’t have evidence of this, stfu.

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

KMA

Saleem
Saleem
5 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

SMD

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago

Remember if you are arrested in Doha make sure you say you were tourtured, made to sign papers in Arabic, not feed, or the accuser was simply Qatari… Or all
Of the above to ensure the public is convinced your innocent … Even if you lock your kids up at night and not feed them till one dies… You’ll be innocent as long as you make it a story of how bad Qatar was to you

Asinine Thinker
Asinine Thinker
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Hey, I know everyone has a right to be stupid but you’re just abusing the privilege.

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago

So is it a right or privilege ?

hohum
hohum
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Having been imprisoned in Qatar on accusation alone (and yes it was a Qatari) all that you have listed unfortunately occurs in Qatar and reason to doubt the credibility of only having a confession to convict somebody.

Torture does occur inside Qatari prisons, I will never forget all the sketches an
Eritrean man drew whilst I was imprisoned. The one sketch that I will never forget is the one where he drew himself hanging from the ceiling, legs and arms bound together, whilst CID hit him with sticks and rope. Having spoken to others prisoners they too spoke of similar experiences to obtain confessions.

Until Qatar stops torturing people and using it as sole evidence expect people to use this defence. Qatar police need to do a bit more in evidence collecting as from my experience they do very little post allegation investigations.

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago
Reply to  hohum

Maybe you shouldn’t have molested a child u sicko

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Deleting for personal attack.

hohum
hohum
5 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

Seriously Shabina why are you trying to clean the image of local contributors? Leaving such a comment would show your readers an insight into the mindset of some of your contribtors. I also don’t understand why my normal response was deleted along with his poor comment.

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago
Reply to  hohum

Bogan

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  hohum

We don’t want bullies on this site, and I don’t think it’s fair to say that one person’s comments are indicative of the attitude of a whole people.

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
5 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

Shabina, with all due respect, why are you allowing the broad-brush allegations that the State of Qatar is solely relying on torture to gather evidence??? That is, frankly, nonsense. The person who is making those allegations has never been tortured and he has never witnessed torture first-hand. I am an expat and I disagree with a number of issues in Qatar, but to perpetuate this c_r_a_p on your blog is preposterous.

hohum
hohum
5 years ago
Reply to  al-Lalal

Nobody ever stated that they solely rely on torture in most cases but don’t you ever question convictions which are brought about through confession alone? Why can’t the police convict people on supporting evidence.

Back in 2010 I was an ordinary teacher who questioned very little about what went on around me while I made a living in Qatar. Since being pulled into the judicial system, through no fault of my own, I have been exposed to the injustices that occur in Qatar. I think its a discussion worth having instead of trying to close it down.

I think most people, particularly locals are aware of what the state does and is in full support of the system.

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
5 years ago
Reply to  hohum

You wrote: “Until Qatar stops torturing people and using it as sole evidence expect people to use this defence.”

hohum
hohum
5 years ago
Reply to  al-Lalal

I still stand by that comment, I have no reasons through my own experience to believe otherwise. Each to there own, I’m in no way expecting to change your opinion.

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
5 years ago
Reply to  hohum

Were you tortured??? Did you witness torture?

hohum
hohum
5 years ago
Reply to  al-Lalal

I wasn’t tortured, something I put down to being white and coming from a country that is perceived as having a strong consular presence around the world.

I didn’t see torture my self but I have no doubt that what the Eritrean man drew was from personal experience. A couple of his sketched experiences were the same as my own.

– Using growling germans shepherds at night to wake everyone up mid sleep to do detect contraband. Having these same dogs at the same level as your resting face is intimidating mid sleep
-Being caught up in a prison riot

During my initial police interview the officer continually claimed they had DNA evidence linking me to a crime, continually insisted that I should admit to the crime and wanted me to sign arabic documents which I outrightly refused.

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
5 years ago
Reply to  hohum

Heresay

hohum
hohum
5 years ago
Reply to  al-Lalal

Believe what you like, but I know any capital police prison officer would be reading my comments and thinking standard procedure.

Saleem
Saleem
5 years ago
Reply to  hohum

That’s just outright disgusting, sorry you had to go through that if what you’re saying is accurate.

Related Articles

- Advertisment -

Most Read

Subscribe to Doha News below!

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.