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Wed 25 Mar 2015 01:26 PM

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Kuwait, Saudi king warn of harsh penalties for judiciary critics

King Salman’s comments emphasising independence of judiciary system comes after international condemnation of Raif Badawi flogging

Kuwait, Saudi king warn of harsh penalties for judiciary critics
Blogger Raif Badawi.

Authorities in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have warned of harsh penalties for those who criticise the judicial system.

In a strongly worded statement, the head of Kuwait’s Supreme Judicial Council, Faisal Al Marshed, said it would prosecute critics, claiming such slander destabilised state security and residents trust in the system, Kuwait Times reported.

In recent day, numerous audio and video tapes criticising senior judicial and political figures have been posted online.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman also on Tuesday emphasised the independence of the kingdom’s judiciary, insisting its decisions would be upheld despite criticism, locally and internationally.

The kingdom has been under pressure to back down on the sentence handed to blogger Raif Badawi, who has been ordered to receive 1000 lashes and spend 10 years in jail for critical posts.

Foreign politicians and the UK’s Prince Charles, among others, have raised the issue with the king.

Badawi received the first set of 50 lashes in January but subsequent floggings have been postponed due to health concerns. However, the king’s comments on Tuesday appear to suggest the sentence will not be reduced or put aside.

“The judiciary in the Kingdom draws its authority from the Islamic Shariah,” he was quoted as saying by the official state news agency SPA.

The Gulf states’ comments were made on the same day that India’s High Court struck down legislation that give authorities the power to jail people for critical comments posted on the internet.

The decision was hailed by supporters of free speech.

The legislation had been introduced in 2008 by the previous government and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he would not appeal the court’s decision.

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