Kuwait jails opposition leader for emir insult
KUWAIT CITY - Agence France-Presse
Kuwaiti former MP al-Barrak was given five years in jail for insulting the emir. AFP photoA Kuwaiti court sentenced today main opposition leader and former lawmaker Mussallam al-Barrak to five years in prison after he was convicted of insulting the emir of the OPEC member country.
Al-Barrak, a nationalist, was charged with making statements deemed offensive to the ruler of the Gulf state, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, at a public rally on Oct. 15. Criticizing the emir is a felony that carries a maximum of five years in jail. The opposition leader was detained for four days in late October and released on bail.
“The court has sentenced the defendant Mussallam al-Barrak to five years in prison with immediate effect,” said judge Wael al-Atiqi in a half-packed courtroom in the Palace of Justice in the capital Kuwait City. One of Barrak’s lawyers, Abdullah al-Ahmad, said “the ruling is null and void because it violated the legal procedures and for failing to provide the defense team with sufficient guarantees.”
“We will appeal against the ruling in the appeals court,” he said.
The verdict comes two days after the Kuwaiti opposition threatened it would stage street protests and could even call for civil disobedience if al-Barrak was denied a fair trial and jailed.
Last week, al-Barrak’s defense team walked out of court after the judge refused requests to hear defense witnesses who included the Kuwaiti premier, two former opposition lawmakers and others.