As hundreds of foreigners trapped in Iraq and Kuwait struggled to get out, Iraq Thursday imposed a law mandating possible life imprisonment for those caught trying to leave without permission.
A plane with 136 Canadians, 12 Americans and 10 Irish nationals who had been in Kuwait and Iraq arrived in London late Thursday on a Nationair flight chartered by Canada's government, airport authorities reported.A British Airways charter with 250 women and children on board departed early Friday from Amman for London. They arrived Thursday in Jordan on two Iraqi Airways jets, one carrying 150 passengers and the second 100, said British Ambassador to Jordan, Anthony Reed.
Iraq's justice minister, Akram Abdul-Kader, ordered public prosecutors and police to revive a 1987 law that ``a foreigner violating the entry and exit procedures ... will be sentenced to life or temporary imprisonment.'
The minister said foreigners must report any change in address within 48 hours or face prison terms of one to three years, plus fines of $300 to $1,500.
Hundreds of Westerners in Iraqi-occupied Kuwait are in hiding to avoid being captured by Iraqi troops. Some foreigners keep constantly on the move, often avoiding Iraqi soldiers with the help of Kuwaiti friends.
Abdul-Kader repeated an order given Aug. 24 that anyone caught harboring a foreigner would face charges of espionage, punishable by death.
Earlier, a British convoy carrying 182 women and children arrived in the Iraqi capital from Kuwait. The Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, has said women and children may leave but men must stay.
The latest arrivals were put in a hotel, where presumably they will await official permission to leave the country. Some men were believed to be among the group.
The convoy left Kuwait Thursday at 9:15 a.m. for the 14-hour drive across the desert to Baghdad, British diplomats in Iraq said.
The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said about 60 women and children were in the group, including 50 Britons, nine Americans and one West German. U.S. Embassy officials were trying to arrange travel for the group to the Jordanian capital of Amman aboard an Iraqi Airways flight.
Another 306 foreigners arrived in Baghdad Tuesday in a convoy from Kuwait.
Four Irish women and children made it to Amman Thursday on an Iraqi Airways flight from Baghdad.
An Air France jet landed in Paris about dawn Thursday carrying 153 Westerners, including three pregnant women, who had traveled from Baghdad overnight. There were at least nine Americans on board.
A Western source in Baghdad said the United States was trying to persuade Iraq to allow an Iraqi Airways jet to airlift some Americans directly out of Kuwait without the overland trip to Baghdad. An estimated 1,300 Americans remain in Kuwait, which has been occupied by Iraqi soldiers since Aug. 2.