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Wed 17 Apr 2013 08:53 AM

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Kuwaiti politician refuses to go to jail

Former opposition politician Mussallam Al-Barrak sentenced to five years for insulting the Emir

Kuwaiti politician refuses to go to jail
Former Kuwaiti opposition MP Musallam al-Barrak. (AFP/Getty Images)

Former opposition politician Mussallam Al-Barrak has refused to be taken into custody to serve his five-year jail term for insulting the Emir, while supporters have protested for the second night, according to local media.

Police were confronted by hundreds of Al-Barrak’s supporters when they arrived at his home on Tuesday night.

The prominent former MP was sentenced on Monday over comments he made during a fiery speech in October in which he appealed to Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah to avoid "autocratic rule".

The ruling brought thousands of people to the streets in support of Al-Barrak chanting parts of Al-Barrak’s offending speech.

"Repeating this speech is not in support for Barrak. It is in support of justice and for the nation," Faisal al-Yahya, a former parliamentarian told the crowd at Barrak's house, according to Reuters.

"I did not insult the emir. I addressed the head of state," Barrak told the Dubai-based al-Arabiya television in an interview.

Al-Barrak refused to go into custody, arguing he had not received an original court order.

He also argues he was not given a fair trial because the judge refused to hear testimonies from defense witnesses including the prime minister.

Human Rights Watch also has called for the sentence to be overturned.

Kuwait has greater freedom of speech than some other Gulf Arab states, however the constitution deems the emir as being "immune and inviolable".

The Kuwaiti government also recently controversially adopted a new media law that allows for fines of up to KD300,000 ($1.05m) for insulting the emir.

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Sanjay 7 years ago

I bet now he wished he wouldn't have shot down that new jail compound project in Kuwait during his term in Parliament! It appears that someone does not want him to run again for the Parliament because anyone with a criminal record can not hold office. Case in point.