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Musallam Al Barrak’s trial resumes on May 27

Kuwait dissident demands that supporters be allowed to attend court session

Gulf News

Manama: Kuwait’s court of appeals on Monday adjourned the trial of former lawmaker Musallam Al Barrak to May 27.

The court is expected to announce its verdict in the case during the next session.

Al Barrak was last month sentenced to five years in jail for allegedly hurling insults at Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah in a speech he gave on October 15 in Kuwait City at the peak of a bitter standoff between the government and the opposition over the amendment of the controversial 2006 electoral law.

Security forces and various political formations accuse Al Barrak of overstepping the limits of political freedom provided in the country by making disparaging references to the emir. However, Al Barrak and his supporters deny the charges.

The drama surrounding the case intensified last month after Al Barrak refused to turn himself in to the police, arguing that he wanted to see the original arrest warrant. As things stand, he managed to evade arrest until he appeared before the court of appeals to challenge the jail sentence.

The court suspended his prison term, but told him that he would have to be physically present for the trial session set for May 13.

The session began with high drama with Al Barrak threatening to boycott the trial if his supporters were not allowed to attend it.

In a brief statement as he arrived at the court, Al Barrak said he did not regret the statement he made in October and added that he would repeat it in 10 years.

“I hold on to what I said. It is my destiny,” he said, according to a Kuwaiti news site.

The firebrand opposition figure reportedly instructed his team of lawyers later to leave the court if the judge insisted on a closed-door trial.

In their submissions, Al Barrak’s lawyers requested the court to send the case back to the lower court on the grounds that the ruling imposing a five-year prison term was null and void. They argued that the judge had ignored the defendant’s constitutional rights.