KUWAIT CITY, Sept 22, (AFP): A Kuwaiti court on Thursday sentenced Shiite lawmaker Abdulhameed Dashti to 11 years’ jail in absentia for insults against HH the Amir and its neighbour Saudi Arabia. Any criticism of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah can result in charges of insulting him, and dozens of opposition activists have been jailed for the offence in the past few years.
The verdict against Dashti, announced in a court statement, comes two months after he was sentenced to 14 years and six months for a similar offence.
Dashti has been living abroad for several months, after leaving Kuwait in March to seek medical treatment in Britain. In the latest ruling, the criminal court in Kuwait City deemed as offensive his remarks about the Amir and neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
The outspoken lawmaker was also convicted in July of endangering ties with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and for calling on people to join the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militia. Dashti confirmed the latest court ruling on Twitter, saying he expects more sentences that could amount to 100 years’ jail as he is facing about a dozen similar cases.
The verdicts are not final but Dashti can only challenge once he returns to Kuwait. 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. The next ruling against him is scheduled for Oct 10. There are nine 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.