Qatar Drops Death Penalty for Filipino Convicted of Spying

May 31, 2015 Updated: May 31, 2015 03:44 PM

DOHA // A death sentence handed to a Filipino in Qatar for spying was reduced to life imprisonment on appeal by a Doha court on Sunday.

Two other sentences of life imprisonment against two other Filipino defendants were reduced at the same time by Qatar’s court of appeal to 15 years in jail.

One of the men sentenced to serve 15 years has been named as Ronaldo Lopez Ulep.

All three had been convicted last year on charges of espionage and passing on Qatar military and economic secrets to the Philippine government.

The unnamed defendant who was originally sentenced to death is likely to spend up to 25 years in prison. He worked as a supervisor at Qatar Petroleum.

The other two defendants worked for the Qatar Air Force.

At the time of their conviction, it was alleged that the two men working for the air force supplied information to the third man for cash.

Following Sunday’s hearing, the Philippine ambassador to Qatar, Wilfred C Santos, welcomed the reduction in sentences but said a further appeal may take place.

“We are willing to exhaust all legal avenues,” he said.

Manila has “emphatically” denied spying on Qatar.

All three men have been detained since 2010.

The case has raised concerns among rights groups, which question the convictions and allege the three men were tortured while being detained.

Amnesty International alleges Lopez Ulep spent four years in solitary confinement and was convicted “on the basis of a ‘confession’ he was forced to sign, even though it was written in Arabic and he could not read it”.

Mr Santos said Manila knew about the allegations of torture.

Relatives of the defendants were also at court but did not want to comment after the hearing.

* Agence France-Presse


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