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Kuwait re-arrests 12 convicts

Manama: Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior announced early Saturday that it had captured 12 of the convicts in Al Abdali terror case who went missing last month.

A ministry statement said the convicts were apprehended in different parts on the country.

The search for the remaining two convicts is continuing, the ministry added in a statement carried by Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).

Al Abdali case has been the hottest issue this summer following a final court verdict in June that overturned an acquittal by a lower court and reports that the convicts had disappeared to evade serving prison terms.

Al Abdali case emerged in the open on August 13, 2015, when Kuwait’s Interior Ministry said that it busted a terrorist cell and uncovered a large cache of arms, ammunitions and explosives hidden underground at a farm in Abdali. The cache contained 24 hand grenades, 65 guns, 56 RPGs and 144kg of bomb-making material.

On September 1, 2015, Kuwait’s public prosecution said 26 defendants, including one Iranian, would stand trial for the possession of weapons, ammunition and explosives and espionage for Iran and Hezbollah.

It said that 24 defendants faced charges of intelligence with Iran and Hezbollah and of engaging in acts likely to undermine the unity and safety of Kuwait.

The trial by the Criminal Court was opened on September 15 and all the defendants present in the court denied the charges.

On January 12, 2016, the Criminal Court sentenced a Kuwaiti man and an Iranian national to death, one defendant to life in prison and 19 others to between five and 15 years in jail.

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The verdicts were appealed and on July 21, 2016, the Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence against the Kuwaiti national, one life sentence and one five-year sentence.

However, it acquitted nine men who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison, and reduced three other 15-year sentences to between two and five years and one 10-year sentence to five years.

It also reduced two 15-year sentences and two five-year sentences to fines of 5,000 Kuwaiti dinars.

The court confirmed the acquittals of three other defendants and a fine imposed on another defendant was waived.

Two cases were not examined as the defendants, including the Iranian national, were tried in absentia and could not lodge appeals.

The defendants who were acquitted or fined by the Court of Appeals were allowed to go home as the case was referred to the Cassation Court, the highest court in the country.

In June, the Cassation Court cancelled the acquittal of defendants and sentenced two of them to 15 years in prison, 15 defendants to 10 years and three defendants to five years in jail.

In July, Kuwaiti daily Al Siyassah said that 14 Al Abdali Cell convicts fled to Iran after they used small boats to reach international waters where an Iranian vessel was waiting for them.

However, the interior ministry dismissed the report, saying there was no evidence that the convicts had left the country and appealed for assistance from Kuwaitis and residents in locating them.

As a massive manhunt across the country was gaining pace, the ministry warned that anyone withholding information on the whereabouts of the convicts would face legal measures.