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Kuwait awaits Musallam Al Barrak’s appeal verdict

Former MP sentenced for five years for allegedly undermining the emir’s status

Gulf News

Manama: Kuwaitis are holding their breath as the standoff between the interior ministry and a former lawmaker sentenced to jail but who refuses to hand himself in continues unabated.

On April 15, Musallam Al Barrak was given a five-year sentence for allegedly undermining the status of Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah in a speech he gave on October 15.

However, his lawyers appealed the verdict and the court of appeals is scheduled to review on Monday.

Al Barrak said the ruling was politically motivated, but he said that he would go to prison to serve the term while the case is reviewed by the higher court.

However, a police force dispatched to arrest Al Barrak was not allowed to apprehend him until the servicemen produced the original arrest warrant.

Al Barrak’s lawyers said that the servicemen only had a copy when they showed up at the diwaniya — private hall — and that they insisted on the original warrant.

Clashes with police

Al Barrak’s supporters, angered by the ruling, staged a march towards the police station and engaged in clashes with the police. Several protesters, including two foreigners, were arrested, but Al Barrak remained free.

Reports in Kuwait City said that the interior ministry released the 19 people arrested during the clashes and that the Yemeni and Saudi nationals would be deported.

Denying claims that he was a fugitive, Al Barrak on Saturday said in a statement that he would be at his diwaniya in Andalus and that the police were welcome to arrest him, provided they had the original warrant.

“The fact that Al Barrak says he is at his diwaniya shows that he is not on the run from justice,” his lawyer Mohammad Al Jasem said. “The interior ministry should send a respectable officer with a copy of the court ruling, a copy of the public prosecution order to arrest him and the original arrest warrant. If the ministry fully complies with the law, then Al Barrak is ready to implement the ruling,” he said, quoted by Al Rai daily.

Last week, MPs said that they were upset the interior ministry could not bring the former lawmaker to serve his jail term and threatened to quiz the interior minister.

Interior minister draws flak

However, on Saturday, MP Faisal Al Duwaisan said that he would defer the quizzing of the interior minister for “security reasons.”

“My intention to quiz Shaikh Ahmad Al Humood is still valid,” he said in remarks published by local Arabic daily Al Jareeda. “However, I am postponing it because of the security situation in the country and the events that unfolded at Al Andalus. My fellow MPs Yousuf Al Zalzala and Safa Al Hashem are still with me on the questioning,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kuwait’s court of appeals on Sunday postponed the trial of three former lawmakers to May 5.

Falah Al Sawwagh, Khalid Al Tahoos and Bader Al Dahoom had been sentenced by a lower court to three years in jail each for undermining the status of the Emir.

However, the appeals court in a first session released them on bail. The judge said that the court needed more time to have the speeches in which they allegedly “undermined the status of the Emir” transcribed.