Kuwait frees bomber mastermind amid protests

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Kuwait freed a Shiite prisoner serving a life sentence for plotting a string of bombing attacks on targets including US and French embassies in the 1980s, a top official said.

"The decision to pardon the man was taken in accordance with guidelines and rules governing such a process," foreign ministry undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallah said in a statement cited by the KUNA news agency late Wednesday.

He was referring to Saad Yassin al-Theyabi, a Kuwaiti national, who was convicted of plotting deadly attacks on the US and French embassies and the Kuwait airport tower in December 1983.

Theyabi was also convicted of masterminding deadly car bombings on two cafes in July 1985, killing 11 people and wounding 89.

Groups linked to Iran were blamed for these and other attacks which came at the height of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war in which Kuwait sided with Iraq under its then president Saddam Hussein.

Opposition MPs have charged that the government released the man at the request of Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi who visited Kuwait last week.

Jarallah, however, denied the charge, saying that the decision to pardon him was taken before the visit.

Kuwaiti media said that Theyabi originally received a death sentence but it was commuted to a life term in mid-1980s.

Like the majority of prisoners held in Kuwaiti jails, Theyabi fled from prison when Saddam's forces occupied Kuwait in August 1990 and went to Iran.

He was re-arrested and jailed in 2002 when he returned to Kuwait.

Islamist MP Mohammad Hayef, one of three MPs who demanded to question the Kuwaiti prime minister for allegedly favouring good ties with Iran at the expense of Gulf Arab states, said the release of Theyabi might be added to the questioning.

© 2011 AFP

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