Nasra al-Enezi - a woman scorned.

 

Nasra Yusuf Mohamed al-Enezi (also given as Nusra Anzi) became the first Kuwaiti woman ever to be hanged, when she went to the gallows within Central Prison on Wednesday the 25th of January 2017.
Click here for a photo of her.

 

The al-Enzi’s were a well to do couple. Nasra and her husband, 36 year old Zayed Zafiri, had two children, Shaqha, 5, and Muhammad, 3. Under Kuwaiti law a man is allowed more than one wife and in August 2009, Zayed Zafiri married for the second time. 

The then 23 year old was convicted of setting fire to a wedding tent in Jahra on Saturday the 15th of August 2009, in what would be the deadliest civilian disaster in the country’s history.  In all 57 women and children died in the blaze, after Nasra poured petrol on the tent and ignited it.  Within three minutes the tent was completely engulfed.
The crime was committed out of jealousy and in revenge for her husband taking a second wife.  The new bride escaped injured, but her mother and sister were killed, as were at least seven children.  In many cases the bodies were burnt beyond recognition and had to be identified from DNA and dental records.  A further 90 people were injured. 

It was reported that Nasra’s maid had told police she saw her employer pouring petrol around the large women-only tent.  Men, including the groom, were in a separate tent.  Unlicensed wedding tents for women were popular because ladies did not need to cover their heads.  Due to having only one exit and no fire precautions they were made illegal after this incident. A link to an Al Jazeera news video in English of the aftermath is here.

 

Nasra was arrested the following day and initially confessed to the crime.  She was charged with premeditated and attempted murder and arson, as crime No. 546/2009.  She was tried in the Court of First Instance, the proceedings beginning on the 27th of October 2009, where she denied the charges and said that her confession was made under threat and coercion.  She also claimed that she lost a baby after she was given abortion pills by a prison employee related to her husband.  On the 24th of November, Judge Adel al-Sager ordered Nasra to undergo psychiatric tests after her defense lawyers claimed that she had suffered unspecified mental disorders when she was a child.  He also agreed to summon the woman’s husband and her Asian maid who said that she saw her starting the fire to testify at the next hearing on the 8th of December 2009.  Nasra told the court that she had poured "cursed water" onto the tent in a black magic ritual. 

She was sentenced to death on Tuesday the 30th of March 2010, by Judge Adel al-Sager. Her sentence upheld by the Appeal Court and the Court of Cassation (the Kuwaiti equivalent of the Supreme Court) on the 12th of June 2011.  This was the first time in Kuwait's history that its highest court had upheld a death sentence for a female citizen.  After that her death sentence had to be confirmed or commuted by the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah.

 

It is reported that Nasra and the other two women were transferred to isolation cells in Central Prison on Monday the 23rd of January.  On the morning of execution security in and around the prison was very tight.  Snipers were positioned on the roofs of nearby buildings.  Four doctors and six technicians arrived at the prison at five in the morning.   The three women were taken by prison van to the place of execution in the staff car park, immediately prior to 10 a.m.  Here their death warrants were read and then they were led up the steps of the gallows by female officers and placed upon individual trap doors.  On the signal being given by dropping the black flag, just after 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday the 25th of January 2017, the three women were hanged.  They were, the by now 30 year old Nasra, together with Jakatia Mandon Pawa, and Omkel Oku Mekonnen.  Jakatia Mandon Pawa, a 42 year old Filipina woman, was convicted in 2008 of killing her employer's daughter.  Omkel Oku Mekonnen, an Ethiopian for whom no age has been given, murdered the daughter of her Lebanese employer in Hawalli in 2008.  All three women were reportedly in a state of near collapse, although this cannot be confirmed.  The bodies were taken down by 10.30 a.m.  Four men were hanged earlier on the same day, three, including a member of the Royal family, for murder and one for abduction and rape.

The Kuwaiti media were excluded from witnessing the hangings on this occasion. The executions drew little adverse comment in the newspapers.

Responding to the inevitable criticism form the human rights organizations, in a statement to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), Assistant Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs Ambassador Ghanim Al-Ghanim asserted, “The death penalty verdicts pronounced by the courts were in cases of premeditated murders and the punishment was carried out after exhausting all levels of litigation.  The verdicts were based on indisputable evidence that the convicts committed the crimes as charged. The evidence included testimonies from witnesses and confessions by those accused of committing grave crimes.” Al-Ghanim clarified the verdicts were announced following fair and public trials “in which all the guarantees stipulated by the Kuwaiti law were provided and lawyers assumed the task of defending their clients.” He affirmed, “The verdicts were upheld by the Cassation Court, the country’s highest court, and became res judicata that could not be challenged. By carrying out the court verdicts, Kuwait did not violate any of the covenants it had ratified, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Arab Charter for Human Rights, or international norms or the GCC Declaration of Human Rights.”  He added the national laws of Kuwait provided multiple safeguards in the case of death penalty. “This is very clear in the fact that such verdicts are pronounced by a high independent and neutral judiciary in public trials where the accused are defended by their lawyers,” he explained.

Comment.

There seems little doubt that Nasra was the perpetrator of the crime, but what is far from clear is whether she intended the horrific outcome or whether she just wanted to disrupt the wedding ceremony as a protest.  Given the ensuing carnage, public opinion was hardly going to be on her side, a point made by her defense attorney.  It also perhaps made it difficult for the Amir not to confirm the sentence.

 

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