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Kuwaiti Man Sentenced To Death

May 3, 2000

KUWAIT (AP) _ A criminal court ruled today that a Kuwaiti man committed treason and should be hanged because he served as prime minister of a puppet Cabinet formed after Iraq invaded this Persian Gulf nation in 1990.

Alaa Hussein, who appeared in court wearing a brown prison uniform, was hustled away by guards so quickly he had no time to react after the president of the court announced the sentence and verdict. Hussein, 41, can appeal.

The court has been hearing the case since Feb. 20, shortly after Hussein returned to his homeland from exile saying he wanted to prove his innocence.

Hussein had been sentenced to death in absentia for treason in 1993, two years after a U.S.-led international coalition liberated Kuwait in the Gulf War. He was granted a retrial to defend himself.

The tall, thin defendant told the court, several times in tears, that Iraqis would have killed him if he defied their orders to take up the post and insult Kuwait in television interviews.

Top Iraqi officials chose Hussein from hundreds of Kuwaitis they took prisoner the first day of the invasion. The members of the ``interim government″ that was dissolved in less than a week were also Kuwaiti war prisoners.

The other Cabinet members asked Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to allow them to return after liberation and he permitted that. The defendant did not come back with them, however, raising suspicions in Kuwait about his allegiance.

Hussein told the court that a senior aide to the Iraqi president told him he would be shot if he tried to leave Iraq. None of his former ministers supported his claims, and many told the court he seemed to take his appointment too seriously and threatened them with death if they didn’t obey his orders.

Hussein’s defense lawyer, Khaled al-Abdul Jalil, told the court his client was a victim of his ``bad luck and poor judgment.″ He also said the man ``may be a coward″ but did not deserve to die for it.

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