By Omar Hasan in Kuwait City
KUWAIT'S public prosecutor has called for the death penalty for an Australian man and 33 other suspected al-Qaeda-linked Islamic militants accused of involvement in deadly clashes with police.
The request for death sentences against the militants, including Australian Talal Adrey, was made in the charge sheet at the trial, which opened in May and resumed yesterday amid tight security.
Most of the suspects are accused of involvement in four gunbattles with Kuwaiti security forces in January that left four police officers dead and 10 others wounded.
Eight militants were killed in the fighting, while Amer Khlaif al-Enezi, the alleged leader of the group, known as the "Peninsula Lions Brigade" and believed to be linked to Saudi militants and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network, died in police detention eight days after his arrest in January.
Among the charges are joining an illegal extremist group, carrying out terrorist acts, participating in the killing of several policemen and plotting to attack US forces and citizens in the oil-rich Gulf emirate.
Three other suspects who
do not face the death penalty are charged with assisting or hiding other militants.
The Australian man said he was interrogated by two English-speaking people pretending to be Australian intelligence agents.
But he said that an Australian embassy official, who was present in court yesterday, had later told him that no Australians had interrogated him.
Mr Adrey said he believed the interrogators were Americans. He claimed they asked him to work as an informer in Iraq.
Following a two-hour hearing and six hours of deliberations by court officials yesterday, judge Hani al-Hamdan ordered the release of three suspects, Nuha al-Enezi, Nuri Mutashar Mudallal and Nasser Ali al-Oteibi, on $US1000 ($1300) bail each, but barred them from leaving Kuwait.
He also ordered suspects to be medically examined and set June 25 for the next hearing.
Mr Mudallal, 30, is one of seven bidoon, or stateless Arabs, in the group. Twenty-five defendants are Kuwaitis, two are from Jordan and there is one defendant each from Australia, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.
Twenty-two of the suspects were present in the court's metal cage. Dressed in prison uniform, the bearded men were chained at their ankles and guarded by masked members of Kuwaiti special forces.
All the suspects present denied the charges against them. Several claimed they were tortured during detention and that their confessions were extracted by force.
One suspect said three toenails were ripped off.
Another said he was forced to make false confessions after officials threatened to rape his wife who was under temporary detention.
Defence lawyers demanded that the suspects be examined by forensic experts over the torture allegations.
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