Kuwaiti court upholds opposition leader’s prison sentence

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Middle East
Monday, 18 May 2015

Kuwait’s Supreme Court has upheld a two-year prison term handed down to opposition leader, Musallam al-Barrak, for delivering a speech considered offensive to the emir of the country.

Defense lawyer Thamer al-Jedaei confirmed on Monday that the latest ruling against his client is final and can no longer be appealed.

Barrak’s nationalist Popular Action Movement (PAM) also said in a statement on a social networking website that he will now have to serve the full sentence.

“The Supreme Court upheld the two-year jail term against Barrak,” the group said in a statement on Twitter.

The Kuwaiti opposition leader was convicted by the appeals court in February of undermining the authority of emir. He served 50 days of the jail sentence before being bailed. The appeals court sentenced Barrak after quashing a five-year jail term handed down by a lower court, which in 2013 found Barrak guilty of insulting Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah in a speech the previous year.

The opposition leader had made headlines in October 2012, when he addressed the emir by saying, “In the name of the nation, in the name of the people, we will not let you, your Highness, practice autocratic rule.”

The 58-year-old is the most senior opposition member to be jailed in an unprecedented government crackdown on dissent.

Kuwait was the scene of sporadic anti-government protests in 2012, when people called for reforms in the country’s election laws. Scores of people and activists were arrested in connection with the protests.

Criticizing the country’s emir is illegal in the US-backed Arab country and is considered a state security offense. Individuals convicted of ‘breaching’ the law can receive prison sentences of up to five years.

There has also been a series of political trials and authorities have revoked citizenship of some Kuwaitis in the past two years. The move has triggered criticism from human rights groups.

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