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Tuesday , September 29 2020

High court jails former, current MPs

Sentences reduced for 2011 storming

In this Nov 16, 2011 file photo, dozens of Kuwaitis briefly storm Kuwait’s Parliament building as hundreds of others protested outside in Kuwait City, Kuwait. Kuwait’s highest court on Sunday ordered an opposition leader and several lawmakers imprisoned for 3-1/2 years over the 2011 storming of Parliament during the country’s Arab Spring protests. (AP)

KUWAIT CITY, July 8: The Court of Cassation on Sunday sentenced 13 former and current MPs to reduced three years and six months jail terms with hard labor for storming the National Assembly building on Nov 16, 2011.

These former and current MPs include Musallam Al-Barrak, Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, Khaled Al-Tahoos, Jam’an Al-Harbash, Faisal Al- Musalam, Mubarak Al-Welan, Fahad Al-Khanna, Salem Al-Nimlaan, Rashed Al-Anizi and Mohammed Al-Dosari. On the other hand, non-political figures involved in the case were sentenced to two years in jail without a chance for parole in one year.

The court refrained from sentencing 34 other accused but ordered them to be under probation for one year with KD 1,000 bail; while 19 were proven innocent and released. The Ministry of Interior immediately acted on the verdict and mobilized teams to arrest the convicts, starting with incumbent MPs Waleed Al-Tabtabaei and Jam’an Al-Harbash who are not under the protection of parliamentary immunity as the National Assembly is in recess.

Consequently, the Assembly will lack two members; hence, the need for a by-election in the second and third constituencies. This will most likely be announced officially as soon as the next legislative term starts in October.

Meanwhile, constitutional expert Dr Mohammed Al-Feeli affirmed the verdict is final and it should be implemented; adding that Al-Tabtabaei and Al-Harbash will not be able to protect themselves using their parliamentary immunity as it is only valid in case of legal accusation, not the final judicial verdict. He said the parliamentary Legal and Legislative Affairs should convene soon and issue a report on withdrawing the membership of Al-Tabtabaei and Al-Harbash, which will be voted on during the first session of the next term.

Furthermore, the court rejected the appeal of MP Mohammed Al-Muttair against the one-year imprisonment imposed on him before the case was referred to the Court of Cassation. He is amongst those proven innocent. The verdict was supposed to be announced on July 6, 2018 but it was postponed until July 8, 2018 for further deliberation. The political arena and streets of Kuwait believe this prior announcement prompted the then leader of the opposition former MP Musallam Al- Barrak to leave the country a week ago. He is currently in Turkey as per the picture and videos posted on various social networking sites.

However, others argued that if he is indeed dodging the verdict, efforts should have been intensified to conceal his location.

Moreover, MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei tweeted hours before the announcement of the verdict that he has faith in the judiciary and if it fails him, “his rights will be restored by the hand of God.” But upon receiving his verdict, the MP stated that the verdict is littered with contradictions and mistakes. He then unveiled his plan to contest the verdict and submit an appeal to the Constitutional Court, claiming the verdict is a violation of Article 29 of the Constitution that stipulates: “People are equal in human dignity. In the eyes of the law, they have equal public rights and obligations. There shall be no discrimination between them because of race, origin, language or religion.” Present at the Justice Palace during the announcement of the verdict and agreeing with Al-Tabtabaei, MP Al- Humaidi Al-Subai’i revealed he was surprised after hearing the verdict. Speaking as a lawyer, not an MP, he pointed out “there are a lot of inconsistencies.”

The case dates back to Nov 16, 2011, commonly known as ‘Black Wednesday’, when hundreds of political opposition activists forcibly entered the National Assembly building as a form of political statement, demanding the resignation of Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Sabah for alleged involvement in corruption. The judiciary considered the act a public offense punishable by law. On Nov 27, 2017, the Court of Appeals rejected 68 individual appeals and sentenced them to imprisonment varying from one to nine years. Following the decision of the Court of Cassation, authorities released 60 individuals convicted as of last February, including current and former MPs, for further investigation that culminated on July 8, 2018 verdict.


By Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff

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