KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – A criminal court on Monday acquitted eight Kuwaitis allegedly linked to Al-Qaeda of plotting to attack a key US military base in the emirate, their lawyer said.
“Judge Hisham Abdullah issued the verdict to acquit the six defendants of all charges. They will be released from detention today,” Mohammad al-Kundari told AFP of suspects who had appeared in court.
Five of the men were arrested in August last year while the sixth suspect is already serving a life term in jail for an 2002 attack on the US military in Kuwait that killed an American soldier.
They were charged with plotting to attack the US military base at Arifjan, 70 kilometres (44 miles) south of Kuwait City.
They have categorically denied the charges and claimed their confessions were extracted through torture.
Two other Kuwaitis who were being tried in absentia were also acquitted by the criminal court, Kundari said.
The two are Mohsen al-Fadhli, who has been wanted by Kuwaiti security forces for the past five years, and Mohammad al-Dossari who is on trial in Lebanon in connection with terror charges, he added.
“It was an expected ruling,” said Kundari, who along with other defence lawyers argued during the trial that the public prosecution and investigators had failed to provide the court any material evidence.
At the start of the trial in December, the public prosecution dropped the key conspiracy charge but pressed other accusations of planning to manufacture explosives and the illegal possession of firearms.
In February, however, a secret service officer told the court that the six defendants plotted to attack the US base in Arifjan in collaboration with the other two suspects.
A US defence department spokesman said last year US forces in Kuwait had been targeted but that it was unclear if the suspects were linked to Al-Qaeda or planned to strike Camp Arifjan.
About 15,000 US soldiers are stationed in the oil-rich emirate of Kuwait, which is also used as a transit point for thousands of US soldiers going to and from neighbouring Iraq.