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Kuwait travel ban on Musallam Al Barrak lifted

Appeals court rejects request to send case to lower court

Gulf News

Manama: Kuwait’s court of appeals on Monday dismissed a request by former lawmaker Musallam Al Barrak to suspend his trial until a verdict by the cassation court is pronounced.

However, the court agreed to lift a travel ban imposed on the leading opposition figure put on trial on charges of undermining the status of the emir in a speech he delivered in October.

A five-year-sentence against Al Barrak by a lower court in April was overturned by the court of appeals in May. However, the court kept the case open within the court, a decision that the former lawmaker challenged at the court of cassation, saying that it needed to be sent back to the lower court.

“Not taking back my case to the lower court means that I have been deprived of my litigation rights,” he said.

The court of appeals scheduled the next trial on September 8.

The ex-MP is well-known throughout his years in the country’s parliament for his vociferous statements and sharp stances. He delivered his “abusive” speech at the pinnacle of a bitter standoff between the government and the opposition over the amendment of the controversial 2006 electoral law.

The opposition, mostly conservative and tribal figures, said that the amendment that reduced the number of ballots a voter could cast from four to one was meant to ensure the election of a rubber-stamp parliament. The government argued that the “one voter, one vote” principle was adopted universally and that the amendment would also help address possible legal loopholes that had marred past elections.

With the parliamentary elections in December, both sides sought support for their arguments and the opposition staged several rallies and demonstrations where leaders gave passion-filled speeches. According to security forces and several political formations, the former lawmaker stepped over the limits traditionally accorded to the emir. However, the ex-MP and his supporters denied the claim.

Al Barrak boycotted the December 1 parliamentary elections and this week urged eligible voters not to cast their ballots at the next national polls to elect a new legislative house on July 25.

Several other former lawmakers supported his call, but the boycott drive on Sunday evening was dealt a heavy blow after Al Awazem, Kuwait’s largest tribe, said that its members would run in the elections.