The case of a Kuwaiti colonel appealing against the death sentence backfired Wednesday as defense witnesses failed to confirm that he was forced to head a puppet government after Iraqi occupation.
Two fellow army colonels, who were captured on the first day of Iraq's 1990 invasion and taken to Iraq, told the court of appeals they did not see the Iraqis use force against the defendant, Alaa Hussein Ali.
Mishal al-Zuman, director of supplies at the defense ministry, and retired colonel Yussef al-Enezi said they were both offered posts in the Kuwaiti government set up by Iraq after its occupation.
Hussein Kamel, a son-in-law of President Saddam Hussein who defected in 1995 and was later killed on returning to Baghdad, "offered to make me defense minister and then vice president. I refused and they did nothing to me," Zuman said.
Both Zuman and Enezi denied even having seen Ali in Iraq.
But Ali, who says he was taken prisoner at the same time and bussed to Iraq with the other colonels, told the court how the Iraqis had tortured Zuman in an effort to force him to join the puppet government.
The defense called the witnesses to testify how Ali had been coerced into heading the government, which lasted only one week.
But "their association with the military establishment may have influenced their testimony," Ali's lawyer Nawaf Sari said after the hearing. "There seems to be a politicization of the case which now has become a political and not criminal case."
Presiding judge Ahmad al-Ajeel adjourned the appeal until June 13th.
On May 3rd, Kuwait's criminal court upheld a 1993 death sentence, which a state security court passed in absentia against Ali for treason, conspiracy with the enemy in wartime and causing damage to Kuwait's sovereignty and independence.
Under Kuwaiti law, verdicts on major offenses can be challenged once before the appeals court and again at the court of cassation. The ruling emir also has the power to commute death sentences.
Ali, 41, returned voluntarily to Kuwait from Norway on January 14 along with his four children for the retrial.
A group of some 80 Kuwaiti citizens and lawyers, meanwhile, are suing Ali for civil damages. They will press for millions of dollars worth of mental and psychological damages, lawyer Fadel al-Jameeli said - KUWAIT CITY (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)