Kuwait court sentences MPs to jail terms for storming into parliament
KUWAIT (Reuters) – A Kuwaiti court handed several lawmakers jail terms on Monday for forcing their way into the parliament building in 2011 – a move that could cause political turbulence in the Gulf Arab region’s most liberal state.
Protesters burst into parliament in 2011 after lawmakers had been denied the right to question then prime minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah about corruption allegations.
Kuwait’s al-Qabas newspaper said the court sentenced current MPs Jamaan al-Harbash and Waleed al-Tabtabai to five years and MP Mohammed al-Mutair to one year.
An outspoken former parliament deputy, Musallam al-Barrak, who earlier this year finished serving a two-year prison sentence for insulting the country’s ruler, was sentenced to seven years.
The MPs have a considerable political following, especially among Kuwait’s traditional tribes which have influence in areas outside the main cities.
Kuwait avoided mass Arab Spring-style unrest though citizens held large street protests in 2012 after the Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah changed the electoral law.
While Kuwait allows more freedom of speech than some other Gulf Arab states, the emir has the last say in state affairs.
There have been a series of political trials and authorities have revoked citizenship of some Kuwaitis in the past several years that have drawn rebuke abroad and anger at home.