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The government announced it has set up a panel to review all verdicts issued by a martial law court trying hundreds of accused collaborators - an attempt to head off criticism of the fairness of the politically charged trials.

Justice Minister Ghazi Sammar made the announcement in Sunday's editions of the state-controlled newspaper al-Fajr al-Jadid, or New Dawn, one day after a five-judge tribunal handed down its first death sentence since the trials began May 19.Mankhi al-Shammari, a stateless resident of Kuwait, was sentenced by a panel of three civilian and two military judges. The trial lacked witnesses against the Arab defendant, who was condemned to die by hanging after he was convicted of joining the Iraqi Popular Army.

Hours before the verdict, U.S. Ambassador Edward "Skip" Gnehm, in the sternest warning yet to Kuwait by a U.S. official, told a gathering of Kuwaiti businessmen that Kuwaitis "must not let hatred and prejudice replace the traditional values of the Kuwaiti people."

It is unclear whether the strongly worded speech triggered the justice minister's announcement.