Up to 5 years jail for Assembly raid – Court orders immediate arrest
KUWAIT CITY, Nov 27: Several opposition MPs expressed astonishment over the verdict of the Court of Appeals which, on Monday, sentenced a number of former and current MPs, including Musallam Al-Barrak, and other citizens up to five years in jail for storming the Parliament building in 2011.
The court ordered their immediate arrest and imprisonment, stressing that storming the Parliament is a public offense punishable by law.
In a related development, a legal source confirmed that the MPs who were sentenced to jail for storming the Parliament building were stripped off their parliamentary immunity immediately after announcement of the verdict.
The source explained that immunity is applicable before interrogating MPs involved in a case and it must be lifted for them to stand trial. Since the immunity of the MPs accused of storming the Parliament was lifted six years ago when hearing on the storming case started, the rule on stripping off their immunity has become effective.
Commenting on the verdict against him, MP Mohammed Barak Al-Mutair asserted, “Patience is a virtue and God is the helper.” In addition, a security source confirmed the arrest of eight people so far, but none of them is a former or current MP.
Earlier, a number of youths among those convicted announced that they will surrender to the authorities. Rashid Al-Fadala, Suleiman Al-Jassem and Mashari Al-Mutairi posted on their Twitter accounts that they will go to Sharq Police Station to surrender.
Sources also confirmed the formation of a joint task force consisting of officers from the State Security General Department and Sentence Enforcement General Department to arrest those found guilty of storming the Parliament building. Asked about the next step concerning the MPs among those sentenced to jail, sources clarified the Ministry of the Interior is still waiting for the legal opinion in this regard and it is expected to decide whether to arrest the MPs or not within a few hours.
According to constitutional expert Dr Hisham Al- Saleh, the ruling of the Court of Appeals is final and enforceable whether those found guilty get arrested or they surrender; while the MPs among them will lose their parliamentary membership through voting. He said the Court of Cassation may release the convicts provided they surrender, at least in the same seating; indicating that there is no immunity for MPs involved in the case so the authorities can arrest them.
Moreover, MP Osama Al-Shaheen said the storming of the Parliament building was a political message conveyed by MPs and young patriots in protest against the MPs accused of involvement in the multimillion deposits scandal.
MP Mohammed Al-Dalal stressed the importance of turning pages of the past to start new pages, asserting the country is in dire need of support from the home front and unity in facing dangers surrounding the country. He considers the Court of Appeals’ ruling very harsh, especially since the lower court had earlier acquitted the accused. He argued that the Constitution and the law stipulate that the Ministry of Interior has no right to arrest incumbent members of the National Assembly unless their parliamentary immunity is lifted or procedures are taken to cancel their legislative membership.
MP Riyadh Al-Adsani said that even though he does not support the act of storming the Parliament building, he still believes it is possible to file an appeal against the ruling. He urged the lawyers to submit an application to suspend implementation of the jail sentence imposed on parliamentarians as a matter of urgency, affirming he trusts the judiciary.
He reiterated that he is against storming of the Parliament building but the multimillion deposits issue has been set aside and those convicted in this case are free, wondering why the government did not submit a draft law to address the legislative vacuum.
MP Khaled Al-Otaibi hopes the Court of Cassation will issue another verdict based on the merits of the ruling of the lower court and consider it a guarantee for the integrity of the judiciary and judicial institutions.
He added, “We will move forward to push for the immediate passage of the draft law on granting amnesty to those found guilty of involvement in political cases. We hope this will pave way for turning the page of the past in order to work for the present and future of the country through fruitful cooperation, far from imprisoning the loyal citizens of this homeland.”
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff