Death penalty for Kuwait dentist’s killers
A Kuwait court on Sunday sentenced four people to death for killing a Lebanese national in an assault at a shopping centre.
Jaber Yousuf, a dentist born to a Kuwaiti mother and a Lebanese father, was killed in late December by four friends at the Avenues, Kuwait’s largest shopping mall following an altercation in the parking lot.
Reports said that Jaber, his brother, a cousin and a friend had a verbal argument over traffic priorities with four people riding in another car. However, while the argument was over for Jaber and his companions when they entered the mall and went to a coffee shop, it was not for the other four young men – two Iraqi brothers, a Saudi national and a Bidoon (stateless) who reportedly wanted the fight to continue until the score was settled to their favour. They allegedly took knives from a shop at the mall, walked up to the four friends and resumed the dispute.
The stateless youth, 22, reportedly pulled out a knife he hid under his clothes and stabbed the dentist to death. The attackers wounded two other people before fleeing. A massive manhunt was launched by the police who used the footage of the two cars arriving at the shopping complex to eventually track the stateless man and arresting him in his hideout in a desert area. Reports in Kuwait City said that he confessed to the crime and gave out the names of his friends. The Saudi national was arrested later. The hunt for the two Iraqi accomplices took five days with security officers monitoring all areas where they could possibly hide, Kuwaiti media reported. The brothers eventually understood that they could not go on hiding forever and surrendered, the reports said.
Initial online comments welcomed the court verdict as an embodiment of justice. The dentist’s murder in one of the most open and public places in Kuwait City sent shock waves through the community and triggered a wave of sympathy with the family and a string of condemnation from lawmakers and former political figures. Several MPs said that they would take up the issue of violence in parliament to push for the promulgation of more stringent laws and for their full application. In their statements, lawmakers said that they would grill any minister who attempted to intercede on behalf of the suspects in order to have their court sentences reduced or to have them released from police custody.