‘Abdaly cell’ fugitives flee

Islamist opposition MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei

KUWAIT: Islamist opposition MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei yesterday questioned Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah over reports that 14 Kuwaitis convicted of forming a cell with ties to Tehran fled by sea to Iran to escape imprisonment. Citing high-ranking security sources, a local daily reported yesterday said the 14 men fled to Iran on speedboats hours after the cassation court overturned their acquittals by the appeals court and sentenced them to lengthy jail terms for plotting attacks in the state.

The men were initially convicted by the criminal court early last year and sentenced to various terms in jail. But several months later, the appeals court acquitted them and set them free. On June 18, when the court of cassation issued the final verdict in the case, the 14 men fled the country to Iran after they learned they had been sentenced to several years in jail. The men are part of 25 Kuwaitis and one Iranian charged with forming the so-called ‘Abdaly cell’ with links to Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group and plotting attacks in Kuwait. One man was sentenced to life, 20 others were jailed between two and 15 years and two acquitted. The remaining three are still at large. The interior ministry has not commented on the report.
Tabtabaei asked the interior minister if the report was true and how the convicts managed to escape the interior ministry’s security system. He demanded a list of names of officials responsible for the boats that carried them to Iran and the names of people responsible on that day. The lawmaker also asked if Kuwaiti authorities have demanded that Iran extradite the 14 men to Kuwait to serve their jail terms. Tabtabaei also asked the minister about what precautionary measures the ministry has taken to avoid the reoccurrence of what he described as the most serious breach of Kuwait’s security.

In a related development, Islamist MP Mohammad Hayef said yesterday that one of those convicted in the pro-Iran cell was working as the director of a private television station. In questions to the acting information minister, the lawmaker demanded a copy of the license of the channel and names of its board of directors. He asked about the measures taken by the ministry against the channel after its director had been convicted in a final court verdict and demanded to know the reasons if no actions had been taken until now.

By B Izzak

This article was published on 17/07/2017