Australian jailed on terror charges
By H. Hashim Ahmed in Kuwait - December 28, 2005

A KUWAITI court has sentenced an Australian man to four years' jail for terrorist-related offences linked to bloody attacks in the country in January.

Talaal Adree, 30, from Auburn in Sydney's west, was among 37 Islamists on trial as members of the "Peninsula Lions" group believed to be linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Six of the suspected militants were sentenced to death.

Among those on trial were 25 Kuwaitis, seven stateless Arabs, two Jordanians, a Saudi, and a Somali.

Other suspects received jail terms of between four months to 15 years, and one received a life term.

Adree, an Australian citizen who had returned to Kuwait three years ago, faced charges of joining a terrorist organisation and handling weapons and explosives.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it understood Adree would appeal the judgment.

"We can confirm that ... (Adree) was found guilty of terrorism-related offences," a department spokeswoman said.

"He was sentenced to four years in prison with hard labour.

"We understand he intends appealing the judgment."

The Australian Government was providing consular assistance to Adree's family, she said.

Adree's mother said in May her son had said he been tortured by two men while in custody whom he said had Australian accents.

Two senior militants who are on the run, Khaled al-Dossari and Mohsen al-Fadli, each received a 10-year jail term in absentia.

Defendants can appeal the verdict.

The suspects were charged with belonging to an "extremist" group, calling for attacks on state facilities, and trying to kill Kuwaiti security forces as well as members of "friendly forces" in the country.

Click here for the Tallaal Adrey Case File

Australian man jailed in Kuwait on terrorism charges
AM - Wednesday, 28 December , 2005  08:08:00

Reporter: Lisa Millar

TONY EASTLEY: An Australian man has escaped the death penalty and been jailed for four years on terrorism charges in Kuwait.

Talal Adrey, from Western Sydney, was one of more than 20 accused militants found guilty in what was billed as Kuwait's biggest terrorist trial.

While Adrey received what was considered to be a lenient jail sentence, six of his co-accused were sentenced to death.

Adrey's legal team is considering an appeal, and remains unhappy at the lack of action over his claims that he was tortured when first arrested.

Lisa Millar reports.

LISA MILLAR: The 30-year-old Sydney man was arrested in February, Kuwaiti officials linking him to the Peninsula Lions Brigade – a militant group with al-Qaeda connections.

More than 30 members were charged after violent clashes with police that left several dead.

There were fears of planned suicide attacks and a possible coup in Kuwait.

Six of the group were sentenced to death – a penalty Talal Adrey was also initially facing before his charges were reduced.

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Bruce Billson.

BRUCE BILLSON: He's been found guilty of two charges: one relating to the possession of weapons and ammunition, and the second charge which relates to acquiring and trading in those weapons and ammunition for the purposes of facilitating intent to carry out murder.

LISA MILLAR: Talal Adrey became an Australian citizen five years ago, arriving here as a refugee.

When he was arrested Australian embassy staff were initially denied access to him in prison, Kuwaiti officials believed he was one of their citizens. Now the court's ordered he be deported at the end of his four-year sentence.

BRUCE BILLSON: We're not in a position to deny access to people who are lawfully Australian citizens. There are some constraints on movement that might be attached to their return. These are things that would need to be examined closely by our own authorities in light of whatever the final conclusion is through the Kuwaiti judicial process.

LISA MILLAR: What kind of constraints?

BRUCE BILLSON: Well clearly if anybody who's been charged with a serious offence is of interest to our own law enforcement authorities. Naturally there'd be some interest in Mr Adrey in that light.

LISA MILLAR: He's expected to appeal the decision. His lawyers say the charges were based on information extracted by force.

Talal Adrey claimed he'd been tortured, his fingernails ripped out. Bruce Billson says there was no evidence of that.

BRUCE BILLSON: Those issues have been thoroughly investigated, he's just confirmed to us moments ago that he's in good health, he's physically well, the medical panel found no evidence of torture.

LISA MILLAR: But his lawyer Stephen Kenny says the allegations weren't checked soon enough.

STEPHEN KENNY: The real problem with that investigation I think was that it didn't occur at the time the allegations were made, and didn’t occur until well after any injuries would have healed, and it would have been very difficult to have evidence of ill treatment. So I think that's what the real problem is, and I don't think the Australian Government can stand up and say that those investigations were fully investigated, because they simply weren't at the time.

TONY EASTLEY: Talal Adrey's lawyer Stephen Kenny.

Adrey torture claims prompt protocol call

Lawyers for Adrey say evidence in the case was gained through torture. [File photo] (ABC TV)
The Federal Government is being urged to develop a protocol to deal with claims of torture amid allegations not enough has been done for an Australian jailed in Kuwait.

Tallaal Adrey, who has been an Australian citizen for five years, has been found guilty of being involved with a group that planned to attack Western targets in Kuwait and send fighters into Iraq.

He has been sentenced to four years in jail.

Adrey's lawyer, Stephen Kenny, says the information used to convict his client was extracted by torture, a claim the Federal Government denies.

But Democrats Senator Natasha Stott Despoja says she is not convinced the allegations have been fully investigated.

"The main thrust was that Mr Adrey had complained of torture, that there was some evidence to suggest that his fingernails had been pulled out," she said.

"There were the other issues, such as he was in a prison where an inmate died in custody, that he had people in his cell or had shared a cell at times with people infected with HIV, indeed hepatitis was another fear.

"There were a catalogue of concerns that could have and, I believe should have, been resolved by the Australian consular officials of the Australian Government ensuring that he had access to a doctor."

Processes questioned

Senator Stott Despoja says the case raises questions about the processes followed by Australian officials.

"There are questions surrounding his treatment and certainly there is a question regarding what kind of protocol Australian Government officials have when dealing with Australian citizens who are detained abroad," she said.

"Particularly those who may be facing a death sentence and in particular those who have complaints of torture or maltreatment."

The Senator says the Federal Government should formalise a process for dealing with torture claims.

"The broader issue when we're talking about Australian citizens, regardless of what crimes they're charged with, that we have to ensure that when they're imprisoned ... that they are imprisoned in a way that certain conditions are respected and met.

"I do think that there's room for the Government to outline a protocol for future reference in the case of torture claims."

The parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, Bruce Billson, says that all allegations of torture were thoroughly investigated.

Mr Billson also says officials have spoken with Adrey today and he is quite well.

Click here for the Tallaal Adrey Case File

Six Lions sentenced to death; Harsh: Defense
KUWAIT CITY: The Criminal Court, presided by Judge Hani Al-Hamdan, Tuesday sentenced six men — Mohammed Saad bin Oun (Kuwaiti), Ahmed Mesameh Al-Mutairi (Kuwaiti), Abdullah Saeed Al-Shimmari (Kuwaiti), Ahmed Neghaimish Al-Enezi (Bedoun), Mohammed Essa Al-Shimmari (Bedoun) and Salah Abdullah Khalaf (Bedoun) — to capital punishment in the so-called ‘Peninsula Lions Organization’ case. These six men were among 37 Islamists who were on trial for being members of a group called ‘Peninsula Lions’, believed to be linked to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda in Iraq. They included 25 Kuwaitis, 7 bedoun, 2 Jordanians, a Saudi, an Australian and a Somali. The court also sentenced Mohammed Sareh Al-Ajmi (Kuwaiti), to life in jail. Another man, Salman Hamid Al-Shimmari (Saudi), was sentenced to 15 years in jail.

Four men, Ahmed Mutlaq, Meshal Meteb, Mohsen Al-Fadhel (Kuwaiti) and Khaled Abdullah Al-Dosari (Kuwaiti), got 10 years in jail. The last two are absconding. Eight other suspects are reported to be at large also. One of the convicts, Fahad Shekhayer, was handed an eight-year imprisonment sentence while five others including Majed Mayyah, Maqboul Fahhad, Hamad Nawaf, Mohmaed Jomaan and Ahmed Abdullah were sentenced to seven years in jail. One of the accused Faisal Amer was sentenced to five years in jail. Seven men including Hossam Yousef, Abdullah Adel, Abdullatif Abdullah, Mohammed Abdurrazeq, Mohammed Shojaa, Talal Qadri (Australian) and Faisal Fahad, were sentenced to four years in jail with Fahad being ordered to pay KD 1000 for suspending the sentence. Adel Habib got two years in jail and Mohammed Wahish, who was also sentenced to two years, was ordered to pay KD 500 for suspending the sentence. Mohammed Saad received a four-month sentence.

The court refrained from passing a sentence against the only woman involved in the case, Noha Mohammed, and ordered her to sign a pledge of good conduct. She was released against a payment of KD 500. The court, meanwhile, acquitted seven men including Mohmaed Abdullah, Nasser Ali, Osama al-Monawer, Bandar Ali, Nouri Metashar, Hamed al-Ali and Yassin Jawdat. For those who were sentenced to death, the court said, "They have committed a great crime; horrified people, murdered securitymen and caused panic among citizens and residents in the country." The court, therefore, was compelled to use the maximum penalty against them. As for those who were acquitted, the court explained they had "no real role in the case." "Sheikh Hamid Al-Ali has not committed the crime included in the charge sheet of the Public Prosecution," declared the court. It added that Hamid Al-Ali was charged with provoking youths against the rulers and calling them for ‘Jihad’.

"The case papers, however, did not include any evidence to prove this charge," the court added. "Osama Al-Monawer is charged with assisting the organization members by giving them money and providing them with information that prevented them from being arrested. However, no evidence appearing in the case documents can be relied upon to prove this," said the court. "There was no supporting evidence to prove the charges against all those acquitted as the Prosecution charges were in these cases were based only on the testimony of the arresting officer, which cannot be fully trusted," it concluded. All the suspects had been earlier charged with belonging to an "extremist" group, calling for attacks on state facilities and trying to kill Kuwaiti security forces as well as member of "friendly forces" in the country.

Prosecutors had demanded the death penalty for about 20 suspect for four shootouts in January in which nine Islamists and four security personnel were killed. Ten police officers were also wounded. While police have said some of the suspects had confessed to planning suicide attacks against the US military and Western targets in Kuwait, several militants denied the charges saying the confessions were "extracted under duress." Kuwait was a launch pad for the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and remains a logistics base for the international coalition, which is fighting an Iraqi insurgency that includes Islamic militants from various Arab nations. Kuwait has cracked down on Islamists opposing the US military presence in the country. A number of foreign nationals including Saudis, Jordanians, stateless Arabs and an Australian of Arab origin were on trial or were killed during the clashes with the country’s security forces.

Agencies add:

The alleged leader of the group, Amer Khleif Al-Enezi, died in police custody eight days after his arrest on Jan 31. His younger brother, Nasser, was killed a day earlier during a gunfight. "Thank God for my acquittal. I was always confident that I am innocent," Munawer told AFP after the verdicts were announced. The verdicts are likely to be challenged in the courts of appeals and cassation (supreme court) before they can be implemented. Lawyer Mohammed Menwer Al-Mutairi, who represented four of the defendants — one of those sentenced to death — told The Associated Press the rulings were "harsh," and maybe intended as a "strong message" for religious extremists. He said he would appeal. "I believe those young men have been deceived, and the way to deal with it is not tough sentences," their lawyer, Khaled Al-Abdul-Jalil, told the three-judge panel last month. "They readied themselves only for jihad (holy war) in Iraq," he said. After seeing the "crimes of the Americans in Iraq," including killing Muslim children and women, they believed that "jihad was their duty."

Earlier this year, many of the defendants told the court that they had confessed under duress. Four of them removed their shirts in the courtroom to display scars on their backs.
Hussam Youssef Abdul-Rahim, a Jordanian defendant, said state security threatened to sexually abuse his wife, who was detained in another room, if he didn’t say he knew that members of the group — who once lived in his apartment — had fought battles with police.
"I asked them to have mercy on me because I had undergone an operation on my right testicle, so they lashed me on it with a stick," he said at the time. Majed Mayyah al-Mutairi, one of the suspects, had testified that he was taken to visit Al-Enezi before he died and that the leader had been "cut to pieces." Al-Mutairi said he himself was not beaten but it "was enough" for him to see the tortured ringleader to sign a false confession.

By Moamen Al-Masri - Arab Times Staff
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