Rights group welcomes bail ruling for Kuwaiti politician

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Former Kuwaiti opposition MP Musallam al-Barrak. (AFP/Getty Images)

Former Kuwaiti opposition MP Musallam al-Barrak. (AFP/Getty Images)

An international human rights group has welcomed the decision of a Kuwait court to grant bailed to Mussalam al-Barrak, who had been jailed for insulting the country's ruler.

Kuwait’s Court of Appeal released the former member of parliament on bail on Monday, in his appeal of a five-year sentence.

“It’s good that the court released al-Barak on bail but the prosecutors should never have brought these charges in the first place,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“Every Kuwaiti has a right to express views critical of the government, even if the emir thinks these views are insulting.”

The court stayed the lower court’s verdict, pending the full hearing of the appeal on May 13, and released al-Barak on KD5,000 ($17,519) bail.

Two Kuwaiti judges, Anwar al-Anizi and Adel al-Huwaidi, and an Egyptian judge, Ahmed Abadha, presided over the hearing, which Human Rights Watch attended.

Al-Barrak, a former member of parliament, was sentenced to five years in jail last week for remarks made at an opposition rally last year.

The case has prompted street protests, some of them resulting in confrontations between police and his supporters.

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