London, Aug.13 : Sheikh Talal Nasser al-Sabah believed that being a relative of Kuwait's rulers would protect him, but now having been sentenced to death by hanging for drug trafficking, he has appealed to his family to show mercy.
According to The Times, the sheikh, who is in his fifties, was caught by Kuwaiti police with 10kg (22lb) of cocaine and 165lb of hashish.
In addition to drugs trafficking, Sheikh Talal was also found guilty of laundering the proceeds and of illegal possession of two pistols and a shotgun.
In his home, police found scales and a mixer used to prepare the drugs for sale.
Three of his associates received life sentences for trafficking, while two others were jailed for seven years for money laundering.
When sentencing him to death, Judge Humoud al-Mutwatah said that he had "willingly walked the path of evil" and deserved no mercy.
This is the first time that a member of a Gulf royal family had been condemned to death by a court, and is widely seen as a test case for the impartiality of the law in a country where the convict's relative, the Emir, could pardon his wayward kinsman.
The sheikh was the nephew of a previous Emir of Kuwait, Jaber al-Sabah, who died in 2006, and is one of hundreds of members of the huge ruling family.
Lawyers at the time hailed the sentence as a sign of the impartiality of the law.
Najib al-Wugayyan, a prominent criminal lawyer, called the verdict "a magnificent indication to all that nobody is above the law".
If a pardon is granted, it could upset Kuwaiti politicians in the constitutional monarchy, where parliament has some oversight powers to hold the ruling family accountable.
Carrying out the death sentence could cause consternation in other family-ruled countries of the region, where Kuwait's decision to allow women to vote in 2005 was met with disapproval.
Kuwait, a tiny country awash with oil wealth and close to drug-smuggling routes from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Europe, has long struggled with drug problems and has initiated strong anti-drug measures in the past.
As well as government rehabilitation programmes, Kuwait also doles out heavy penalties to those caught dabbling in the trade - long prison terms and the gallows for those involved in serious smuggling.
Since it introduced the death penalty 40 years ago Kuwait has executed more than 70 people, most of them convicted for drug smuggling or murder.
The first drug-related executions took place in 1998 when two Iranians found guilty of smuggling heroin were hanged.