KUWAIT CITY, July 27, (AFP): A Kuwaiti court on Wednesday sentenced a Shiite lawmaker to 14 years and six months in absentia for remarks deemed highly offensive to fellow Gulf states Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Abdulhameed Dashti received 11 years and six months for insulting Saudi Arabia and three years for insulting Bahrain in another case.
The outspoken lawmaker, who has been living overseas for the past four months, was also convicted of endangering Kuwait’s diplomatic ties with the two countries and for calling on people to join the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militia.
Dashti described the sentences as “oppressive” on his Twitter account, but insisted that he will not back down. The verdicts are not final but Dashti can only challenge them when he goes back to Kuwait. He did not say when he will return. Dashti, a strong supporter of Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told parliament in March that he was undergoing medical treatment in Britain.
The lawmaker still faces several similar cases and if convicted could receive additional jail terms. Dashti has been a vocal critic of the royal families of both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. He denounced the 2011 Saudi military intervention in Bahrain to support the government against Shiite-led protests as an “invasion”.
In May last year, Dashti filed a request to question the Kuwaiti foreign minister over the country’s participation in the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen’s Shiite Huthi rebels. But Parliament refused to allow him to grill the minister over Kuwait’s involvement, which he alleged was in breach of the constitution. There are just nine Shiite MPs in Kuwait’s 50-seat parliament. The minority Shiite community comprises some 30 percent of the country’s native population of 1.3 million.