Kuwait hangs five, including 2015 mosque bombing convict

Kuwait hangs five, including 2015 mosque bombing convict
A number of people were sentenced to death in Kuwait on Thursday.
3 min read
The Public Prosecution said all five were executed by hanging [Getty/archive]

Kuwait put to death five people on Thursday, including a man convicted of involvement in a 2015 Islamic State group suicide bombing that killed 26 people, the Public Prosecution said.

The multiple executions in the Gulf emirate - relatively rare compared to neighbouring Saudi Arabia - are the first since seven people were put to death in November last year ending a five-year moratorium.

In a statement, the Public Prosecution said it oversaw the "implementation of the death sentence in Kuwait's Central Prison" against five people, most of them accused of murder.

They include Abdulrahman Sabah Saud - the main convict in the 2015 bombing that struck a Shia mosque in the capital during Friday prayers. It was the bloodiest attack in Kuwait's history.

Saud, a stateless Arab, was convicted of driving the bomber to the mosque and bringing the explosives belt he used from near the Saudi border.

At his initial trial, Saud pleaded guilty to most charges but, in the appeals and supreme courts, he denied them all.

The other men executed on Thursday included a Kuwaiti, an Egyptian and a member of Kuwait's stateless Bidoon minority, all of whom had been convicted of murder.

A Sri Lankan was put to death on drug charges.

The Public Prosecution said all five were executed by hanging.

Kuwait had initially charged 29 defendants, including seven women, with helping the Saudi mosque bomber.

In 2016, it upheld jail terms of between two and 15 years for eight people, including four women, and acquitted more than a dozen others.

Those convicted include alleged IS leader in Kuwait, Fahad Farraj Muhareb whose death sentence was commuted to 15 years in prison.

Although Kuwait has executed dozens of people since it introduced the death penalty in the mid-1960s, the punishment is relatively rare.

Most of those condemned have been convicted of murder or drug trafficking.

In April 2013, Kuwaiti authorities hanged three men convicted of murder. Two months later, two Egyptians, convicted of kidnap and murder, were executed.

In 2017, the emirate carried out a mass execution of seven prisoners, including a ruling family member.

Capital punishment is widespread in the region, particularly in Iran and Saudi Arabia, where 74 people have been put to death this year alone, according to an AFP tally.

At least 64 people are currently on death row in Saudi Arabia, including nine who were minors when they were charged, the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR) said on Friday.

Critics says Saudi Arabia's persistent use of capital punishment flies in the face of the softer image it has sought to create through its "Vision 2030" social and economic reforms.