Prisoners hanged for committing ‘heinous crimes’

KUWAIT: Kuwaiti authorities hanged seven prisoners in a mass execution yesterday, including a ruling family member and a woman convicted of killing 58 women and children when she set fire to a wedding tent - the first death sentences carried out in several years in the state. “The central prison carried out death sentences against seven individuals who committed a number of heinous crimes,” the public prosecution said in a statement.

Those executed included a Bangladeshi, a Filipina, an Ethiopian, two Kuwaitis and two Egyptians, according to the statement carried on the state-run KUNA news agency.

KUNA said that all had been convicted of murder except the Bangladeshi man, who was convicted of rape, kidnapping and theft. HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Sabah authorized the executions, which were carried out in the morning at the prison.

The royal was identified as Sheikh Faisal Abdullah Al- Jaber Al-Sabah, who killed his nephew Basil Al-Sabah, also a member of the ruling family, in 2010 over a dispute. He is the first ruling family member to be executed in Kuwait. Executions of royals in Gulf countries are rare but do happen. In October, Saudi Arabia executed a prince who fatally shot another man in a melee.

The second Kuwaiti national executed yesterday was Nusra Al-Enezi. She was convicted of setting fire to a wedding tent in 2009 after her husband took a second wife. The blaze killed 58 women and children, her lawyer Zaid Al- Khabbaz said.

The Bedouin-style tent, put up so women attending could be uncovered for the event, had only one entrance. Dozens of others were injured in a stampede during the fire, which later led Kuwait to ban the tents. The lawyer said he last spoke to his client a month ago. “She sounded very fragile, very shaken, more than any other time,” Khabbaz told AP. “It’s impossible to say that she intended to kill all those women and children. ... It was a tragedy.”

The Filipina and Ethiopian women were domestic helpers convicted of murdering members of their employers’ families in two unrelated crimes.

The two Egyptians were convicted of premeditated murder while the Bangladeshi was convicted of abduction and rape. In the Philippines, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose identified the Filipina hanged as Jakatia Pawa, who was convicted of killing her employer’s daughter. Pawa’s brother, Air Force Lt Col Gary Pawa, said his sister called early morning yesterday, crying as she informed him of her scheduled execution. “My sister’s only request was for us to take care of her two children,” he said.

Ernesto Abella, a spokesman for Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, said in a statement that the authorities used “all efforts to preserve her life, including diplomatic means and appeals for compassion”.

“Execution, however, could no longer be forestalled under Kuwaiti laws,” he said. “We pray for her and her bereaved family.” Kuwait is home to 250,000 Filipino workers, with about 158,000 of them working as domestic helpers, Philippine ambassador to Kuwait Rene Villa said. Kuwait resumed executions in 2013 after a moratorium of six years.

In April 2013, authorities hanged three men convicted of murder. Two months later, two Egyptians, convicted of murder and abduction, were executed. One of them, Hajjaj Saadi, was convicted of abducting and raping 17 children below the age of 10. He denied the charges in court. Human rights group Amnesty International condemned the executions as “shocking and deeply regrettable”. “By choosing to resume executions now the Kuwaiti authorities have displayed a wanton disregard for the right to life and signaled a willingness to weaken human rights standards,” Samah Hadid, Amnesty’s deputy campaigns director, said. The group urged Kuwait to review abolishing the death penalty. Reprieve, a London-based rights group, also criticized the executions and urged countries to call on Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to halt executions. Kuwait has executed 74 men and six women since it introduced the death penalty in the mid-1960s.

Most of those condemned have been murderers or drug traffickers. Around 50 prisoners are on death row. It’s not clear what sparked the timing of the executions. However, it comes 10 days after Bahrain announced it put three men to death in its first executions since 2010. — Agencies