Kuwait hangs seven people including royal

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait on Wednesday hanged seven people including a member of the ruling family and a woman who burned dozens of people to death at a wedding party, the authorities said.

The three women and four men are the first to be executed in the oil-rich Gulf state since mid-2013.

They included two Kuwaitis, two Egyptians and one each from Bangladesh, the Philippines and Ethiopia, a statement by the public prosecution office said.

Sheikh Faisal Abdullah Al-Sabah, the first royal to be executed in the emirate, was convicted of shooting and killing his nephew, another member of the ruling family, in 2010 over a dispute.

Nusra al-Enezi, the other Kuwaiti, set fire to a tent in 2009 during a wedding party in an apparent act of revenge against her husband for taking a second wife.

Many of the 57 people killed were women and children.

Enezi, who was 23 years old at the time, threw petrol on the tent, where people were celebrating inside, and burned it down in one of the most devastating crimes in the history of Kuwait.

The Filipina and Ethiopian women were domestic helpers convicted of murdering members of their employers' families in two unrelated crimes.

Philippines presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the presidential palace was saddened by the execution of Jakatia Pawa.

Abella said the government had done everything it could to save Pawa, including legal assistance to ensure that her rights were respected and all legal procedures were followed.

Manila "exerted all efforts to preserve her life, including diplomatic means and appeals for compassion. Execution, however, could no longer be forestalled under Kuwaiti laws... We pray for her and her bereaved family," he added.

Around 240,000 Filipinos are working and living in Kuwait, some of them domestic helpers.

The two Egyptians were also convicted of premeditated murder while the Bangladeshi was convicted of abduction and rape.

First executions since 2013

Kuwait resumed executions in 2013 after a moratorium of six years.

In April 2013, authorities hanged three men convicted of murder.

Two months later, two Egyptians, convicted of murder and abduction, were executed.

One of them, Hajjaj Saadi, was convicted of abducting and raping 17 children below the age of 10. He denied the charges in court.

Human rights group Amnesty International condemned the executions as "shocking and deeply regrettable."

"By choosing to resume executions now the Kuwaiti authorities have displayed a wanton disregard for the right to life and signalled a willingness to weaken human rights standards," Samah Hadid, Amnesty's deputy campaigns director, said.

The group urged Kuwait to review abolishing the death penalty.

Reprieve, a London-based rights group, also criticised the executions and urged countries to call on Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to halt executions.

Kuwait has executed 74 men and six women since it introduced the death penalty in the mid-1960s. Most of those condemned have been murderers or drug traffickers.

Around 50 prisoners are on death row.

Courts in Kuwait, which has an elected parliament and an active political scene, have in the past handed down death sentences to members of the Al-Sabah family that has ruled the country for two-and-a-half centuries.

Capital punishment is widespread in the Gulf region, particularly in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Every year Tehran and Riyadh execute hundreds of people, mostly for murder and drug trafficking. — AFP