x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Kuwait police accused of fatally torturing prisoner could face death

Some of the 16 policemen under investigation for torturing a prisoner, Mohammed al Mutairi, for six days until he died could suffer the death penalty for murder if found guilty.

KUWAIT CITY // The public prosecution is pushing for the death penalty for some of the 16 policemen under investigation for torturing a prisoner to death, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The prosecution accused the men, including three officers, of kidnapping, forced detention, torture and falsification of case records and murder, the local daily Al Jarida said, citing unnamed sources. The men are in police custody.

On Monday, members of parliament filed to question the minister of the interior about the death of Mohammed al Mutairi and misleading the public. On Tuesday, a parliamentary committee investigating the death said Mr al Mutairi was tortured for six days in the police station and the desert before he died on January 11.

"What is happening in Kuwait has never happened before," an MP who is a member of the dead man's tribe, Musallam al Barrak, told The National in parliament this week. "We need to stop the bad practices that are taking place in the criminal investigation department."

The interior ministry said in a statement after the death that the man dealt in alcohol and had attacked police with weapons when they tried to arrest him. It said he was sent from the police station to a hospital in Ahmadi after complaining of chest pains, where he died.

The ministry later said the statement was inaccurate and ordered an investigation. The minister of interior, Sheikh Jaber Khaled al Sabah, offered his resignation to the government, but remains in office.

"He didn't do anything. He was innocent, and he died," said Muhannad al Sayer, a lawyer for the dead man's family.

He said the policemen who beat Mr al Mutairi should be charged with murder and laws that regulate criminal investigations need to be changed to allow detainees more access to lawyers and prevent the police who "take the accused men's positions from doing the same thing".

Ziad al Khabbaz was on the policemen's defence team for a short period after they were accused. The lawyer said he dropped the case after some of the men who had originally claimed to be innocent confessed to torture and planting evidence during the public prosecutor's investigation.

"I have too much pain in my heart, I must say everything," one of the officers told him, he said.

jcalderwood@thenational.ae