Egypt arrests Kuwaiti sheik on drug charges

April 15, 1991|By New York Times News Service

CAIRO, Egypt -- Egyptian officials said yesterday that they had arrested a member of the Kuwaiti ruling family on charges of possessing nearly two pounds of heroin and trafficking in the drug.

Under an Egyptian law promulgated two years ago to fight hard drugs, the offenses could be punishable by death.

The arrest of the Kuwaiti, Sheik Talal Nasser al-Sabah, a nephew of the emir of Kuwait, and its prominent announcement on the front page of the government-owned newspaper Al Ahram yesterday morning were pointed reminders to wealthy Arabs visiting this country as tourists in large numbers after the Persian Gulf war not to abuse Egypt's hospitality, senior Egyptian officials suggested in interviews yesterday.

After a session of questioning by prosecutors, Sheik Talal admitted to reporters that he had smuggled heroin into Egypt, but he denied that he was a drug trafficker.

"I brought in the heroin from Syria for my own use," he said. "I burn 30-40 grams of heroin daily. I am not selling it."

Sheik Talal, who is in his 30s, is not known to hold any position in the Kuwaiti government. Described by Al Ahram as "a heroin addict who markets the drug to supplement his enormous spending habits," he was arrested by undercover policemen in his apartment in the suburb of Heliopolis in the company of a Syrian, a 54-year-old man identified as Abdo Ahmad Naim, the newspaper said.

Al Ahram also linked the Kuwaiti to the attempted murder last year of a popular Egyptian singer, Ahmad Adawiya.

Mr. Adawiya was found comatose in a room at the Marriott Hotel here last year after overdosing on heroin, the paper said. It was alleged that Sheik Talal had given the singer the overdose in an attempt to kill him in a dispute over a woman.

Al Ahram's account yesterday was the first official confirmation of the incident, which has been the focus of gossip here for a year.

Mr. Adawiya continues to suffer from unspecified physical impairments and has appeared in public very infrequently.

The arrest of Sheik Talal and the publicity about it marked a departure from the Egyptian policy of tolerance toward visiting Arab royal figures, who often vacation in Egypt to indulge in liberties they deny their own people at home.

Asked if Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was consulted beforehand over the arrest of the Kuwaiti, the presidential affairs spokesman, Mohammed Abdelmoneim, said yesterday that "the president never interferes in the application of the law."

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