Kuwait court puts off Al Barrak’s trial

Faces charges of undermining the Emir’s status and interference in his prerogatives

Image Credit: REUTERS
Kuwaiti women attend a peaceful opposition-led rally against new voting rules in their designated section, opposite the Kuwait Parliament building November 11, 2012.
Gulf News

Manama: A Kuwait court has postponed the trial of a key opposition figure to next month upon a request from his lawyer.

Former lawmaker Musallam Al Barrak will know his fate on December 10 when the Criminal Court issues its verdict on the charges of undermining the status of the Emir of Kuwait and interference in his prerogatives in a speech he delivered last month.

The lawyer called for lifting a travel ban imposed on Al Barrak, arguing that he needed to go abroad for medical treatment.

Al Barrak, who has been a vocal voice against the government and whose arrest sparked a demonstration, faces up to five years in prison if found guilty of the charges.

He was allowed to go home after initial investigations on a KD10,000 (Dh130,135) bail.

Offensive statements

Four other opposition figures were also investigated for making statements deemed offensive by the authorities.

The opposition has been organising protests against the controversial amendment of the 2006 electoral law that slashed the number of candidates a voter can elect from four to one.

Parliamentary elections, the second to be held this year, are scheduled for December 1.

A parliament elected on February 4 was dissolved after the Constitutional Court ruled that the decrees dissolving the 2009 parliament in December and calling for fresh elections were unconstitutional.

The 2009 parliament was reinstated but its members could not convene, forcing the call for new elections.

Poll boycott

However, the oppositions said that it would boycott them and urged Kuwaitis to refrain from registering as candidates and to abstain from casting ballots as voters.

But, according to official figures, 387 people signed up their names during the 10-day registration process to run as candidates.

The political divergences have indicated the depth of the divisions within the Arabian Gulf state that celebrated with great fanfare the 50th anniversary of its constitution on Saturday.

However, the opposition staged a separate celebration on Sunday evening at the Irada Square, the epicentre of its rallies and gatherings.

Two open street demonstrations held in October and November had resulted in clashes with the police and in injuries among the demonstrators and securitymen.

The interior ministry has pledged a zero tolerance policy towards “unlawful gatherings”.