AN Iraqi and two Kuwaitis said at their trial Wednesday they knew nothing about an alleged plot by Iraqi intelligence to assassinate former President Bush during his visit to Kuwait in April.
Out of 14 defendants in the trial, 10 are accused of plotting to kill Mr. Bush and two of being accomplices. Both crimes are punishable by death. At the start of the proceedings June 5 only two of the defendants said they were involved in the alleged conspiracy.
The United States hit Baghdad with cruise missiles last week, killing eight civilians, after it said it found compelling evidence that Iraqi intelligence was behind the alleged conspiracy. Iraqi officials say the plot is a fabrication.
Police say a Toyota van with 180 pounds of concealed explosives was found in the group's possession when members were arrested during Bush's visit. The van was discovered parked at a sheep pen owned by one of the defendants in an agricultural area near Kuwait City.
Police say they were on alert after a tip from sources in Iraq in March and rounded up most of the group during Bush's visit before they could put the plan into action.
The case has been adjourned until July 17. Egypt Hangs 7 Militants
Seven Muslim militants convicted by a military court in Egypt of attacking foreign tourists and conspiring to overthrow the government were hanged in a Cairo prison yesterday. Military prosecution sources said the men were executed one after another, beginning shortly after daylight.
The mass hanging showed that President Hosni Mubarak is determined to show no mercy to militants who have attacked police, Christians, and foreign tourists in a campaign to overthrow him and install a purist Islamic state.
The movement that carried out the tourist attacks is the Gamaa Islamiya (Islamic Group), whose spiritual leader, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, was detained in New York last Friday on immigration charges.
At least 12 of Sheikh Rahman's followers have been charged with involvement in February's bombing of the World Trade Center in New York that killed six people and injured 1,000 and an alleged plot to blow up United Nations headquarters and other sites in the New York area.
An Egyptian military court condemned the seven men to death on April 22 after finding them guilty of attempted murder in six attacks on tourist buses and a Nile cruiser in Egypt last year.
More than 140 people have been killed and 300 injured in 14 months of political violence in Egypt, either in militant attacks or police raids. The government has fought to smash the Gamaa since last December with hundreds of arrests, violent raids on militant hideouts and a mosque, and the use of swift-acting military courts, which have passed 22 death sentences. Iraqi Texts: Kuwait a State
Iraq has promised to revise its school textbooks so that they portray Kuwait as an independent and sovereign state, an Iraqi official said yesterday. Iraqi children have been taught that Kuwait was historically part of Iraq - a claim the government asserted when it invaded the emirate in August 1990.
But the Iraqi representative to the executive committee of the Arab League Educational, Cultural, and Social Organization said yesterday that the Iraqi Ministry of Education had issued orders that textbooks and school maps should treat Kuwait like any other Arab state. The committee, which ended its meetings yesterday, said it had taken note of the Iraqi representative's promises on the sovereignty and independence of Kuwait.