Kuwait– Kuwait Ministry of Interior announced on Saturday it had arrested 12 members of “Abdali” cell after weeks of manhunt.
The members are convicted of espionage for Iran and Hezbollah.
The Ministry said the 12 had been captured in different areas across Kuwait. They had been on the run since their sentencing last month, while two other convicted Kuwaitis remained at large and an Iranian, Abdulreza Haidar Dahqani, who has been sentenced to death in absentia.
Of the convicts, nine had been sentenced to 10 years in prison, while three had been sentenced to five years.
“The Interior Ministry announces that security services have arrested in different regions 12 people sentenced in the so-called Al-Abdali cell,” a statement from the ministry and carried by the state news agency KUNA said.
The Ministry announced last month that it had implemented the judgment of the Court of Cassation issued in case No. 302/2016 on the so-called Abdali cell, calling for the arrest of the suspects.
Reports mentioned that the convicts might have escaped outside the country, but authorities confirmed earlier that they remained inside of Kuwait.
Their escape created a diplomatic crisis with Iran, and the Lebanese government highly condemned Hezbollah for its involvement.
On June 20, Kuwaiti authorities expelled 15 Iranian diplomats and shut down the military, cultural and trade missions of the Iranian embassy over Tehran’s backing of the “terrorist cell”.
Earlier, on June 18, Court of Cassation
Abdali case emerged 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 area on border with Iraq.
The authorities also discovered hand grenades, guns, 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.
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 between five to 15 years in jail.
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.