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KUWAIT CITY, Dec 22, (AFP): A Kuwaiti appeals court on Thursday sentenced former Shiite lawmaker Abdulhameed Dashti to 10 years in jail in absentia for insults against neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
The new term raises to 42 years and six months the total jail terms handed to Dashti for making comments deemed offensive to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and endangering Kuwait’s ties with them. In previous cases, he was also convicted of insulting Kuwait’s ruler. The three countries are part of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regional alliance. “Could anyone believe that I received jail sentences of 42 years and six months for just expressing my opinion,” exclaimed Dashti, who is living outside Kuwait, in a tweet.
Dashti was elected to Parliament in 2013 but left the State in March this year for medical treatment in Britain and has been abroad since then. He tried to register to contest last month’s snap polls but electoral authorities and the court barred him. Dashti still faces several other cases for which he could receive further jail terms if convicted.
In previous comments on Twitter, Dashti said he expected sentences that could amount to 100 years in jail. The verdicts are not final but Dashti can only challenge once he returns to the oil-rich country. He has not said when he will go back. Dashti is a staunch supporter of Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a critic of the royal families of both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
He denounced as an “invasion” the 2011 Saudi military intervention in Bahrain to support the government against Shiite-led protests. There are six Shiite lawmakers in the 50-seat Parliament of Kuwait, and the minority comprises about 30 percent of the country’s native population of 1.3 million.