Seven death sentences handed down by a Kuwait City court today are a misguided response to the bombing of Imam Sadiq Mosque in June this year and must be overturned, Amnesty International said.
The armed group calling itself the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Shi’a mosque, in which a Saudi Arabian man blew himself up during Friday prayers, killing 26 others and wounding 227. It was the worst act of violence in Kuwait since the 1991 Iraqi invasion.
The Kuwaiti authorities announced that they arrested 29 people in early August in connection with the bombing.
“These death sentences are a misguided response to what was an utterly heinous and callous criminal act,” said James Lynch, Acting Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
“The death penalty is not the way to tackle terror, and these sentences do nothing to build a culture of rule of law and tolerance which Kuwait needs now more than ever. They must be overturned.”
Death sentences are subject to appeal in Kuwait.
Five of the seven defendants sentenced to the death were convicted in absentia. According to the Kuwaiti state news agency, eight other defendants were given prison sentences ranging from two to 15 years and 14 others were acquitted.
In the wake of the mosque bombing on June 26, Amnesty International urged Kuwait to respond to the atrocity within the law and in compliance with its international human rights obligations. The organization called for thorough, effective and transparent investigations in line with international standards, leading to fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, the guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the offender or the method.