KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Kuwait’s court of appeals on Thursday upheld the acquittal of eight nationals, two of them tried in absentia, of charges of forming an Al-Qaeda cell and plotting attacks against a US military base, their lawyer said.
“The appeals court today confirmed the acquittal issued by the criminal court in May against all the defendants,” Adel Abdulhadi told AFP.
He said the defence team was considering suing the interior ministry for damages as the court had also upheld the lower court’s ruling that the men had been tortured by the Gulf state’s security service.
Five of the men were arrested in August last year while a sixth suspect is already serving a life sentence for a 2002 attack on the US military in Kuwait that killed an American soldier.
The other five defendants were released after their acquittal by the lower court on May 10.
The two men acquitted in absentia 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 on terrorism charges.
The trial had focussed on an alleged plot to attack the US military base at Arifjan, 70 kilometres (45 miles) south of Kuwait City, the largest US military facility in Kuwait and home to thousands of troops.
The accused said that purported confessions presented to the court had been extracted under torture.
The prosecution can still take the case to Kuwait’s highest court but Abdulhadi said he thought that unlikely.
About 15,000 US soldiers are stationed in oil-rich Kuwait, which also serves as a transit point for the tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.