Eight More Sentenced to Hang in Kuwait
KUWAIT CITY (AP) _ Despite growing international criticism and emotional pleas for mercy in its courtrooms, Kuwait’s judicial system on Thursday sentenced eight more people to death for collaborating with Iraq.
The death sentences, the most returned in a single day since the martial- law courts began their work on May 19, drew little response from the citizens of Kuwait, many of whom were preparing for a holiday weekend.
″People want these sentences,″ said Jasim Muttawa, editor-in-chief of Al- Watan newspaper.
″People think that these are war criminals,″ said Ghanem al-Najjar, a founder of the Kuwaiti Center to Defend War Victims. ″They think this is right, some kind of revenge should be made.″
Kuwait suffered many atrocities during the Persian Gulf War, and Kuwaiti citizens appear to feel little sympathy for the 29 people - mostly stateless Arabs, Palestinians and Jordanians - who have been sent to death row so far.
The martial-law trials have been sharply condemned by Kuwaiti defense lawyers and international human rights organizations.
Human rights groups say Kuwait is holding foreigners, most of whom were given few rights under Kuwaiti law, to a standard of loyalty that even citizens could not meet.
The groups also say the foreigners had not been warned that petty jobs with the occupation authorities would be considered collaborating.
Jordanian brothers Mamoun and Mohammed Masoud, of Palestinian origin, were condemned Thursday for collaborating and for carrying unlicensed weapons.
Their brother drew a 12-year sentence for a weapons charge.
Iraqi Sabah Mohammed Hasan, born and raised in Kuwait, was sentenced to death in absentia for joining the Popular Army, an Iraqi civilian militia.
The others sentenced under the broad charge of collaboration were Jordanians Bilal Abdel Rahim Abou Hamed, Imad Sami Mohammed, Raid Abdul Rauf and Ra’id Mufid and a stateless Arab, Samir Khalaf Aboud.
The death sentences brought shrieks of grief from relatives attending the trial, with women slapping both cheeks repeatedly, smashing their heads against glass windows and crying hysterically.
The armed military police on hand pushed them down the corridor away from the courtroom.
The aunt of Samir Khalaf Aboud refused to leave the hall and was asking passersby what she could do to save the nephew she raised after his mother died.
″Where is the rest of the world? Why isn’t anybody trying to help?″ she screamed, smacking the window with her forehead.
The mother and sister of the three Masoud brothers read the Koran before the presiding judge entered the courtroom.
″Mamoun is just 23. Only God can avenge this injustice 3/8″ the mother cried when she heard the death sentence.
Judges in three different sittings of the martial law courts handed three other defendants life sentences, among them a Jordanian translator, Na’il Subhi al-Borno, accused of aiding the enemy and of theft.
There is no appeal under martial law, but the martial-law governor, Crown Prince Saad Abdullah al-Sabah, must approve all sentences in consultation with three judges from the Court of Appeals.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch wrote a letter to the emir Wednesday calling for a halt to the trials, saying they fall short of international standards of justice in presenting evidence and other normal procedures. Amnesty International earlier called for a halt in the trials.
Another London-based human rights group, Article 19, on Thursday protested death sentences given to six people accused of working for an Iraqi-run occupation newspaper, Al-Nida.
In a letter to the Kuwaiti ambassador to Britain, the group called for the Kuwaiti government to review all verdicts and sentences already returned and halt future trials until the courts comply with international standards.
The United Nations Correspondents Association on Thursday also appealed for clemency for the six journalists.
U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar has called for clemency for all the condemned, while Germany, France and Jordan have expressed concern.
Many Kuwaitis ignored the controversial court proceedings on Thursday, the start of the five-day holiday for the Eid al-Adha, the largest holiday in the Moslem calendar and the start of summer vacation for Kuwaitis.
″Most people are not concerned. They are thinking about their own problems,″ said Imad al-Seif, a lawyer defending about 20 clients in the collaboration trials.
″They are thinking, ’Should I leave for London?‴ he added.