Kuwait urged to commute death sentences in spying case

Human Rights Watch claims conviction of Hassan Hajiya and Abdulreda Dhaqany on Jan 12 was 'flawed'
Kuwait urged to commute death sentences in spying case
By Staff writer
Sat 23 Jan 2016 01:10 AM

Kuwait has been urged to drop plans to execute two men convicted of spying for Iran and Hezbollah, with an international rights group claiming their trial was "flawed".

Kuwait’s first instance criminal court sentenced Hassan Hajiya, a Kuwaiti national, and Abdulreda Dhaqany, an Iranian national, to death on January 12.

In both cases, Human Rights Watch said they were convicted "without adequate legal representation".

“Issuing a death penalty sentence, especially after flawed proceedings, is a terrible way for the Kuwaiti authorities to begin 2016,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director.

“The authorities should commute the executions immediately and reinstate the moratorium that had been in place from 2007 to 2013.”

Hajiya’s lawyer, Khaled Al Shatti, said that his client was held and interrogated on an almost daily basis from August 13 to September 1, 2015, by Homeland Security without any access to legal representation, the rights group said in a statement.

It added that his lawyer sought access to the interrogations but the attorney general denied him and all of the other lawyers of the 24 other defendants who faced similar charges access to their clients.

Al-Shatti hopes to appeal Hajiya’s death sentence within the next three weeks.

Human Rights Watch also said Dhaqany was not arrested, nor was he represented by a lawyer before three judges in Kuwait’s first instance criminal court sentenced him to death in absentia. He is currently outside the country.

State prosecutors brought charges of espionage and possession of arms without a licence against 26 people in all. Judges found 24 people guilty of possessing arms without a licence and 18 among them for spying.

After a de facto moratorium on the death penalty since 2007, Kuwaiti authorities executed five people in 2013. In September 2015, a court sentenced seven people to death in relation to the Shia Imam Sadiq Mosque bombing in June. On December 13, the appeals court upheld the death penalty for one of them and commuted the other sentences.

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