Debate continues in Kuwait over woman's death
al-Shamari - Al-shorfa.com
June 25, 2011
A case involving a Kuwaiti woman
who received a death sentence for her role in a tent fire that led to
58 deaths has triggered intense debate in the country.
Some Kuwaitis hoped the ruling would be reduced to
a life sentence while others considered the death penalty a fair
On June 12th, the Supreme Court upheld the Appeals
Court's decision to execute the woman. The decision marked the first
time in Kuwait's history that the highest court upheld a death
sentence for a woman.
Nasra Yousef Al Enezi, 24, was accused of setting a
tent on fire in August 2009 during the wedding of her husband, Zayed
Zafiri, 36. The incident led to the death of 58 women and children and
injured 30 others. The husband was celebrating his second marriage.
Neither the husband nor the second wife were in the tent when the
incident occurred. The event was held in Al Jahra province, north of
Al Enezi and Zafiri have two children, Shaqha, 5,
and Muhammad, 3.
Defence attorney Zaid al-Khabbaz hoped the sentence
would be reduced to life imprisonment. He told Al-Shorfa the court
"did not listen to the defence from the beginning so the verdict was
decided in advance".
He criticised the handling of the case from the
beginning which started as "an ordinary criminal case and became a
case of public opinion with interference from political interests,
which led to the issuance of a death sentence".
Al-Khabbaz ruled out the possibility that the
victims' families would give up their right to retribution "because of
the great pressures exerted on them". He hoped for "the humanity of
the country's emir to commute the death sentence".
If the victims' families surrendered their right to
retribution, the case would be waived and the defendant would pay a
fee to the victims' families at the court's determination.
Since the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al
Sabah assumed power, he has not ratified a death sentence as the
penalties were commuted to life imprisonment.
This was the second time a Kuwaiti woman received a
death sentence. The first was issued by the Criminal Court on March
21, 2005 when a woman was accused of drug trafficking. The Court of
Appeals reduced the sentence to 15 years in prison, and the Supreme
Court upheld the decision on January 30, 2007.
Dr. Abdul Wahab Zafiri, head of the Department of
Sociology at the University of Kuwait, said, "The issue from the
beginning was very tragic. This disaster has many victims."
He added, "I do not mean only those who died but
also those who were injured or who witnessed the tragedy and were
psychologically affected to a large degree, which may prevent them
from attending such events again."
He said the tragedy occurred because of the failure
to provide solutions to current social problems, notably polygamy, the
lack of respect for women and appreciation for the role they play in
society. It has become easy for any man to marry another woman without
Zafiri said he personally opposes the death penalty
and was sympathetic with the accused and with the victims' families.
He said, "The circumstances surrounding the accused
pushed her to act in this manner. As for the victims' families, no one
can blame them for not waiving their right to retribution. Some of
them might even view death as insufficient for the torment of losing
their loved ones."
Khidr al-Baroon, a professor of psychology at the
University of Kuwait, believed compassion could be offered to the
families of the victims and to the accused.
Al-Baroon said, "In view of her young age and lack
of experience, she lost control when she felt intense jealousy and
experienced the trauma of her husband marrying another woman." He
hoped that the emir would reduce the punishment.
Najla al-Naqi, a lawyer in the government's
Department of Fatwa and Legislation, supported the death sentence on
the grounds that it would be "the best deterrent to any woman thinking
of committing such an act".
She told Al-Shorfa, "It is not reasonable for the
victims' families to waive their right (of retribution), especially
since many families lost mothers and daughters."
Kuwaiti citizens were divided about the court's
Engineer Saleh al-Harbi, 45, considered the death
sentence fair and wished it would be implemented quickly. He said, "It
does not make sense for a woman, lured by the devil to kill 58 human
beings, to stay alive."
Najah Al Ajmi, 50, a teacher, suggested following
Europe's example of abolishing the death penalty. She expected the
death sentence would be commuted to life imprisonment.
Kuwait wife sentenced to death
for fatal wedding fire
March 30, 2010
A court in Kuwait has sentenced a
23-year-old woman to death for starting a fire at wedding celebrations
in which her husband was taking a second wife.
Some 57 women and children were killed in the
incident in al-Jahra in August, making it one of the worst civilian
disasters in Kuwait's modern history.
The judge found the woman, Nasra Yussef Mohammed
al-Enezi, guilty of premeditated murder.
She denied the charges and her lawyers say they
Death sentences in Kuwait are carried out by
Enezi, who was not present in court for the
verdict, was found guilty of "premeditated murder and starting a fire
with the intent to kill".
Press reports at the time of the blaze said she had
wanted to avenge her husband's "bad treatment" of her, but in court
she denied any involvement in the incident.
The victims were all women and children because
wedding celebrations are traditionally segregated along gender lines.
Ninety guests were injured in the blaze and the
ensuing stampede to get out of the tent, which only had one exit.
Kuwait banned wedding tents after the incident.
Kuwaiti woman denies starting deadly fire at wedding
By Omar Hasan (AFP)
October 27, 2009
KUWAIT CITY — A Kuwaiti woman denied in court on
Tuesday causing a blaze that killed 55 women and children by setting
light to a tent at a wedding party after the man she had married took
Nasra Yussef Mohammad al-Enezi, whose lawyers say
she is still married to the man, simply replied "no" when Judge Adel
al-Sager asked her if she had set the crowded tent on fire and killed
It was the only word the 23-year-old spoke during
the brief hearing, which opened her murder trial.
The August 15 inferno engulfed the
women-and-children-only tent in just minutes and triggered a panicked
Nasra was brought to the small courtroom from the
central prison, accompanied by five female guards. Pale and looking
frail, she was allowed to sit outside the dock, which is not usual for
defendants that are in custody.
She initially refused to speak after two female
guards had helped her to the judge's rostrum.
Dressed in a long grey dress, the young woman had
entered the court with her face fully covered.
But when she approached the judge, guards removed
the cover revealing her stunned face. She refused to answer questions
by the judge, who ordered guards to give her water and told her to
The judge then proceeded with other cases. At the
judge's second attempt to ask her plea, she denied the charges.
Her three lawyers called for her release pending
the full trial and accused prison officials of mistreating her.
Defence lawyers alleged that Nasra was two-months
pregnant when arrested and was "deliberately aborted" by a prison
guard with the help of an Asian nurse.
Lawyer Khaled al-Awadhi told reporters the prison
guard is a relative of Nasra's husband and has since been transferred
from the prison.
Lawyer Saqqaf al-Saqqaf told AFP he believes Nasra
was made to take drugs, passed off as tranquilisers, that immediately
caused her abortion.
Prison officials failed to send her to the hospital
for examination of what caused the abortion, he said.
Saqqaf added that under Kuwaiti law, death
sentences for pregnant women are automatically commuted to life
imprisonment. "Perhaps this is the reason why they aborted her," he
The three lawyers demanded that Nasra be examined
by a doctor to establish how she lost her baby and when.
The prosecutor presented no arguments during the
hearing, but lawyer Zaid al-Khabbaz told reporters the woman is
charged with "premeditated murder and starting a fire with the intent
The judge rejected all the defence petitions and
set November 17 for the next session, to hear defence arguments.
Nasra was arrested on August 16, a day after 41
women and children died in a fire at a wedding tent in Jahra, west of
Kuwait City. The death toll later rose to 55, according to the
She was initially believed to be the groom's
ex-wife, but her defence lawyers say that she is still his wife. Men
are allowed to have more than one wife in this Muslim Gulf state.
Nasra and the man have two children, both of whom
are mentally handicapped.
Kuwait wedding blaze death toll rises to 55
By Andy Sambidge - ArabianBusiness.com
October 18, 2009
The number of
deaths related to wedding tent fire in Jahra, Kuwait in August has
increased to 55, an official said on Sunday.
In a statement to KUNA News Agency, the Interior
Ministry's spokesman Colonel Mohammad Al-Sabr said one further person
had succumbed to their injuries sustained in the blaze, which was
He expressed his deepest condolences to the
families of the recently deceased.
There were around 80 people injured in the fire,
which occurred on August 15. They were mostly women and children.
The fire gutted a wedding tent in the district of
Al-Jahra, north of the capital.
In August, the Kuwait Fire Service Department's (KFSD)
final report on the fire highlighted a number of "gross errors".
It also confirmed that the cause of the fire that
led to the deaths earlier this month was arson.
The report emphasised the importance of enforcing
the requirement for obtaining licences for events held in marquees for
any purpose to avoid such tragedies from occurring in the future.
The report said that investigations conducted by
KFSD experts at the scene of the blaze concluded that the fire was
deliberately started, with evidence of flammable substances discovered
The KFSD's report also listed a number of errors in
the marquee's layout and supplies that worsened the situation, such as
the lack of more than one entrance, the presence of large amounts of
inflammable items and overcrowding.
The report proposed that a number of measures be
introduced to prevent such horrific events from recurring, such as
banning the holding of weddings in unlicensed tents.
Ex-wife admits Kuwait wedding arson
Groom's former wife admits to
setting wedding tent ablaze, killing 43 women and children
August 20, 2009
The ex-wife of a groom at a
Kuwaiti wedding party has admitted starting a blaze that engulfed a
tent, killing 43 women and children.
The 23-year-old told police she
poured petrol around the packed wedding tent and set it on fire to
avenge her ex-husband's "bad 'treatment" of her before their divorce,
Kuwait's Al-Qabas newspaper said on Monday.
Colonel Mohammad al-Saber, an
interior ministry spokesman, said: "We have identified the perpetrator
who confessed to committing the crime for personal reasons."
He told Kuwaiti television the
fire engulfed the tent in just three minutes.
The bride escaped injured, but
her mother and sister were killed.
Al-Qabas said the woman's maid
had told police she saw her employer pouring petrol around the large
women-only tent in the town of Jahra before the blaze started on
Ninety other people were injured
in the inferno, which was the deadliest civilian disaster in the
modern history of the Gulf state.
Most of the bodies were charred
beyond recognition and forensics specialists were working to identify
the victims, officials said.
Sixteen of the dead were buried
Five people remain in critical
condition with severe burns. At least seven of the dead were children.
Medical officials have said that
specialised medical teams from Germany and Britain were coming to
Kuwait to treat the injured.
The government of the oil-rich
state has formed a high-level committee to investigate the incident
after sharp criticism by politicians that authorities were too slow in
the rescue operations.
A number of MPs have demanded a
probe into why authorities failed to apply strict safety and security
rules for wedding tents.
The interior ministry has advised
citizens against setting up tents in residential areas as they could
obstruct any rescue operations.
Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah
expressed deep sympathy with the families of the victims and said he
will not accept greetings on the occasion of the Muslim fasting month
of Ramadan, expected to start this weekend.
Several MPs have called on the
government to declare a state of national mourning.
Last year, two women died and
several others were wounded in a similar incident in Jahra, 50km west
of the capital Kuwait City.
Most wedding parties in the
conservative Muslim Gulf state are segregated in line with local
Ex-wife blamed for Kuwait
August 17, 2009
Kuwaiti police investigating a deadly
blaze at a wedding tent that killed 43 women and children say the
ex-wife of the groom has confessed to starting it.
The tent was consumed by flames in seconds in the
worst civilian disaster in Kuwait's modern history.
Fire service officials said the tent had only one
exit and did not meet fire safety regulations.
Media reports say the woman told police she had
wanted to avenge ill-treatment by her husband before their divorce.
Later the Ministry of the Interior, quoted by the
official news agency Kuna, announced that one person had been arrested
on suspicion of causing Saturday's fire, but no further details were
Earlier on Monday the Qabas newspaper said the
23-year-old ex-wife of the groom had told police she used petrol to
set fire to the packed and highly inflammable wedding tent
The victims were all women and children because
traditionally wedding celebrations are segregated along gender lines.
The Kuwait Times newspaper reported that the
groom's new bride had escaped injury but that her mother and a sister
Some local newspapers have criticised the
government over the blaze, which happened in the town of Jahra, saying
its handling revealed failures in disaster response planning.
MPs criticised the lax official reaction to
unlicensed tents being erected in residential areas despite the
implicit safety risks.
Most of the bodies were burned beyond immediate
recognition, police said, and forensic officials were now working to
identify the victims.
Ninety guests were injured in the blaze and ensuing
stampede, and five burns victims are in a critical condition, medical
Dozens die in Kuwait wedding
August 16, 2009
Forty-one women and children have
died after a fire broke out in a tent at a wedding near Kuwait City.
Guests were trampled in the stampede towards the
only exit, as the tent was razed in just three minutes, a fire
department chief told AP news agency.
Six of the dead were children. Up to 60 women and
children were also injured in the tragedy on Saturday evening in the
al-Jahra area, west of the capital.
The cause of the blaze is unknown. It is not clear
if the bride escaped.
Wedding celebrations in the conservative Gulf state
are held separately for men and women. Children attend the women's
Four teams of fire-fighters were dispatched to the
scene, about 50km (30 miles) west of the capital, as well as a large
number of ambulances.
Officials said the authorities had had difficulty
evacuating the injured because of the large numbers of anxious
relatives at the scene.
The country's ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber
al-Sabah, extended his condolences to the families of the victims.
Fire department chief Brig Gen Jassem al-Mansouri
told AP news agency the authorities would have to carry out DNA tests
to identify the victims.
"It was a horrific scene with bodies and many shoes
stuck to the ground at the only exit. They must have trampled over one
another," he said.
Interior ministry spokesman Col Mohammed al-Saber
confirmed to Reuters news agency that the tent, which could seat more
than 200 people, had only one exit.
Investigators are trying to establish what sparked
the blaze, with faulty electrical wiring, or coals used for burning
incense, among possible causes, according to reports.