Kuwait court upholds opposition leader jail sentence

AFP , Monday 18 May 2015

Kuwait's emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah (Photo: Reuters)

Kuwait's supreme court on Monday upheld a two-year jail sentence against prominent opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak for insulting the emir, his group said.

"The supreme court upheld the two-year jail term against Barrak," the Popular Action Movement (PAM) said on its Twitter account, adding that the former lawmaker, who had been out on bail, will now have to serve the full sentence.

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

He was convicted by the appeals court in February of undermining the authority of Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and served 50 days of the jail sentence before being bailed.

The supreme court verdict is final and cannot be challenged.

It may also jeopardise his political career because it could bar him from standing for election to parliament.

The charges against him stem from a speech he gave to tens of thousands of demonstrators in October 2012 protesting against changes to the electoral law. He said the reforms would allow the government to manipulate the outcome of elections.

Barrak was a member of parliament at the time, but his nationalist party boycotted polls in December 2012 and July 2013 held under the new electoral law.

The appeals court sentenced Barrak after quashing a five-year jail term handed down by a lower court.

Kuwaiti courts have sent dozens of opposition and online activists to jail on charges of insulting the ruler.

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