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Six Pro-Iranian Shiites Sentenced To Death, Eight Given Prison Terms With AM-Gulf-Soviet,Bjt

June 6, 1987

KUWAIT (AP) _ A state security court sentenced six Kuwaiti Shiite Moslems to death and eight others to prison terms Saturday after convicting them of sabotage and plotting against the government.

Two of those sentenced to die are still at large.

Two defendants were acquitted at the end of the two-month trial, held as tension heightened between Kuwait and Iran.

Those convicted were charged with bombings a year ago at Kuwait’s al-Ahmadi oil refinery; three fires at desert and offshore oil installations in January, and a car bombing in Kuwait city in January on the eve of an Islamic summit, which Iran refused to attend.

Iran warned the summit should not be held in Kuwait.

The bearded Shiites yelled in Arabic, ″God is great 3/8″ and ″There is no God but Allah 3/8″ as Court President Mohammed al-Bannai announced the sentences in the heavily guarded courtroom.

One defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor. Seven drew terms ranging from two to 10 years.

The sentences were expected to deepen the rift between Kuwait and Iran, which accuses the emirate of aiding Iraq in the 6 1/2 -year-old Iran-Iraq war. Iran has repeatedly attacked Kuwaiti ships.

Kuwait has dealt harshly with incidents of Shiite violence.

In December 1983, 17 pro-Iranian Shiites - all Iraqis except for one Lebanese - were convicted of bombing the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait. Those attacks killed five people and wounded 86.

Islamic Jihad, or Islamic Holy War, a pro-Iranian Shiite faction holding two Americans hostage in Lebanon, has repeatedly demanded Kuwait free the 17 in return for the release of its captives. Kuwait refuses.

Another 26 Kuwaiti Shiites are due to go on trial this month on charges of obstructing police seeking to arrest one of the fugitives sentenced Saturday.

Fourteen Shiites now have been sentenced to death since 1984 for terrorist attacks, starting with the 1983 bombings. They include two men convicted for an abortive attempt to assassinate the emir of Kuwait, Sheik Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah, in May 1985.

The emir has yet to ratify any of the death sentences despite demands by Kuwaiti newspapers that the executions be carried out to deter terrorism.

Arab diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, speculated that the emir may be delaying the executions to avoid complicating efforts to secure the release of the Americans held in Lebanon.

Islamic Jihad has held Terry Anderson, 39, chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, and Thomas Sutherland, 54, acting dean of agriculture at the American University of Beirut, for more than two years.

There was no immediate comment on Saturday’s verdicts from Iran. However, Iranian newspapers called the defendants mujahedeen, or holy warriors of Islam.

The United States and the Soviet Union have moved to help Kuwait protect its shipping. This angered the Iranians, who warned they will not stop attacking Kuwaiti ships.

Update hourly