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Qatar Court Passes Death Sentences

May 21, 2001

DOHA, Qatar (AP) _ An appeals court gave death sentences on Monday to 19 people, including the emir’s cousin, for a failed coup attempt in 1996.

Eighteen other defendants were given life sentences, and 29 were ordered freed. The court order was read by the judge in the presence of journalists. Death sentences have to be approved by the emir.

Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir’s cousin, was a former economy minister and an ex-police chief. He was thought to be the mastermind behind the coup attempt.

In February 2000 a lower court sentenced 33 people, including Sheik Hamad, to life in prison for attempting to overthrow the emir.

Another 85 defendants were acquitted by that court in a trial that began in November 1997. Nine of those convicted and 20 of those acquitted by the lower court were tried in absentia.

Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the 47-year-old current emir, overthrew his father in a 1995 coup. Those convicted were believed to be supporters of his father.

The ousted emir, Sheik Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, himself came to power after deposing his cousin. He has now settled in Paris but travels often to London and the Gulf.

Qatar, home to about 200,000 citizens and more than 300,000 expatriate workers, is a peninsula jutting off Saudi Arabia. It has the world’s third-largest reserves of natural gas and enough oil to support an annual per capita income of about $13,600, one of the world’s highest.

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