Gang get two years for storming Kuwait TV studio

October 8, 2012

A Kuwaiti court has sentenced nine people to two years in jail each for storming a television station in January.

The criminal court also fined two suspects KD100 (Dh1,300) each and acquitted the 12th man arrested in the incident that left 20 policemen and four protesters injured.

The clashes erupted when men from Al Mutairi tribe attacked the studio of Al Watan TV station while it was hosting a debate ahead of the February 2 parliamentary elections.

The tribesmen were upset with the participation in the debate of Nabeel Fadhl, a controversial candidate with a record of bitter standoffs with tribal parliament hopefuls and the opposition.

Tensions were high after protesters torched the headquarter’s tent the previous evening used by controversial candidate Mohammad Al Juwaihel over his remarks that allegedly targeted the influential tribe.

Furniture and equipment at Al Watan TV station were destroyed in the attack, police said.

The prosecution charged that the protesters assaulted on-duty policemen and hurled stones and pieces of iron and wood at them. Other charges were ignoring and resisting police orders to disassemble, threatening to kill Nabeel Fadhl and uttering public insults against him and causing property damage.

The suspects have denied any wrongdoing over the incident.

The verdict can be challenged at the court of appeals.

The 2012 parliamentary elections campaign was one of the most controversial in the country’s history after candidates traded vitriolic attacks, invariably fuelled by partisan media, where supporters stormed TV offices and set tents ablaze.

The 50 parliament seats were carried mainly by candidates fielded by tribes and by Islamist societies while no woman was able to make it to the legislative body. In 2009, four candidates made history by becoming the first women in the country’s history to become lawmakers.

However, several analysts were quick to conclude that the parliament would not serve through its term and that its composition of Islamists, tribesmen and independent candidates could not tolerate the much-needed diplomatic understanding to help the country out of the difficult political and constitutional difficulties.

“Tribalism and Islamism have proven that they are indisputably the most significant factors in the elections, way ahead of any other consideration,” Mohammad Al Suhaili, a Kuwaiti political analyst, said.

“There will be standoffs with the government as well as numerous clashes between the lawmakers whose backgrounds and orientations sharply contrast. I do not think that this parliament will go to the full extent of its term. It is way too explosive to remain,” he said two days after the results were announced.

Abdullah Al Shayji, chairman of the Political Science Department at Kuwait University and specialist in Gulf and US politics, referred to election day as “a roller coaster with many surprises”.

“There are no women in the new formation and the liberals have been dramatically decimated,” he told Gulf News following the national polls.

In June, the Constitutional Court in an unprecedented ruling said that the decrees calling for the dissolution of the 2009 parliament and for holding parliamentary elections were unconstitutional.

The verdict de facto dissolved the new parliament and reinstated the 2009 legislative body.

However, lawmakers were unable to meet following strong pressure by the opposition and the reinstated speaker said that he left the matter to the Emir after attempting twice to convene parliament.

The opposition is now pushing for the dissolution of the 2009 and for holding new elections based on the 2006 electoral system.

An attempt by the government to amend the law in August and address “legal loopholes” was turned down by the constitutional court in late September.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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