Former MP sentenced to five years in jail

April 19, 2013

A Kuwaiti court on Monday handed the maximum sentence to former lawmaker Musallam Al Barrak, sending him to five years in jail for allegedly abusing the Emir.

The ex-MP who served in parliament from 1996 until 2012 was found guilty of making at an October 15 rally statements deemed highly offensive to Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah.

“The court has sentenced the defendant Musallam Al Barrak to five years in prison with immediate effect,” Judge Wael Al Atiqi said at the court in Kuwait City where an impressive cordon of security was set up to avoid possible clashes.

One day earlier, supporters of Al Barrak said that they would meet outside the court before the trial and again in the afternoon to discuss the impact of the judge’s decision.

Under the court decision, Al Barrak, who was not under arrest when he attended the last session of the high-drama trial, is to be taken on the same day to prison to begin serving the term while his lawyers launch procedures to appeal the verdict.

One of his lawyers said that the ruling was null and void because it violated an article from the constitution and other articles in Kuwait.

His supporters gathered at his diwaniya (private hall) following the court decision and Al Barrak said that he did not mind being sent to prison.

“The only thing that is more appealing to me than prison is seeing your faces. I draw my strength from you,” Al Barrak reportedly told them. “The verdict was political and violated Article 34 of the constitution and other laws,” he said.

Former MPs at the meeting expressed concern the ruling would result in chaotic situations in Kuwait.

“We will organise several rallies and demonstrations to show our support,” Khalid Al Tahoos, a former lawmaker, said.

According to reports emerging in Kuwait City, the interior ministry has been taking precautionary measures to avoid possible evening confrontations and an escalation of the situation.

Last summer, several policemen and demonstrators were injured in clashes and riots stemming from protests organised by the opposition to press for the repeal of the decree that amended the 2006 electoral law and slashed the number of ballots that could be cast from four to one.

The amendment was highly criticised by the opposition, saying that it aimed to limit its influence following its strong showing in the February 2012 elections when tribesmen and Islamists dominated.

Explaining his ruling on Monday, the judge said that Al Barrak had insulted the Emir at the rally and abused his prerogatives as the head of state.

The former lawmaker addressed the Emir in a fiery speech, saying that he will “not be allowed” to take the country into autocratic rule.

However, the judge said that Al Barrak’s statement was not an opinion he was free to express, but an abuse of the Emir and of his prerogatives stipulated in articles 51 and 54 of the constitution.

Under Kuwaiti law, Al Barrak can challenge the five-year sentence at the court of appeals and the court of cassation.

However, if he is found guilty by all courts, he will lose the right to run in parliamentary elections again.



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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