A senior Kuwaiti official has slammed Iran for criticizing a Kuwaiti court ruling that sentenced four men to life in jail for spying for Tehran, newspapers reported on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, this is an act of disrespect for Kuwaiti court rulings that we highly appreciate and respect,” foreign ministry undersecretary, Khaled al-Jarallah, was quoted as saying by Al-Rai newspaper.
“Kuwaiti court rulings on men accused of spying were issued after lengthy and in-depth investigations … We reject the Iranian foreign ministry statements because they undermine our court verdicts,” he said.
Jarallah was responding to Tuesday remarks by Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, in which he insisted the charges against the seven-member spy cell were false and rejected the ruling.
“From the Islamic republic’s point of view, all these charges are false and the sentences handed down are unacceptable,” Mehmanparast told a press conference in Tehran.
“We hope that the Kuwaiti government will review its position and that these people will soon be freed,” he said.
Kuwait’s court of appeals on Monday reduced a death sentence on two Iranians and a Kuwaiti to a life term and upheld a life sentence on a stateless man.
It also confirmed the acquittal of a man and a woman, both Iranians, while a Syrian who was sentenced to life by the lower court too was acquitted.
The two convicted Iranians and the Kuwaiti worked for the Kuwaiti army at the time of their arrest in May 2010.
The defendants were accused of spying for Iran and of passing information on the Kuwaiti and US military in the Gulf emirate to the Islamic republic’s Revolutionary Guards, an accusation Iran has denied.
The defendants denied the charges and insisted they had been tortured to extract confessions.
Local media has also reported that some of the men were given training on the use of explosives and had planned to bomb Kuwaiti oil pipelines.
The case strained relations between Kuwait and Iran, prompting a tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats.
Ambassadors later returned to both capitals following a visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi to Kuwait City in May 2011.
The ruling is not final as the case will now go to Kuwait’s supreme court, where a final verdict will be issued.