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Kuwait frees former MPs, activists on bail

Kuwait, October 24, 2012

Kuwait have freed on bail three former opposition lawmakers accused of criticising the emir and four people arrested for taking part in protests last week, local activists said on Wednesday.

Former Islamist MPs Falah al-Sawwagh and Bader al-Dahum, and Khaled al-Tahus, a member of the nationalist Popular Action Bloc, were released by a Kuwaiti court on Tuesday on bail of KD5,000 ($18,000) each, Mohammed al-Humaidi, a lawyer and head of Kuwait Society for Human Rights, said.

A court hearing was set for November 13, said another activist, who asked not to be named.

The MPs were arrested on Thursday after they made comments seen as criticising the country's ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, at an opposition-led rally last week where riot police used tear gas and stun grenades against demonstrators.

Although Kuwait allows more freedom of speech than some other Gulf states, the emir is regarded as above criticism.

Three activists and the son of opposition leader and former parliament speaker Ahmed al-Saadoun were also freed by public prosecutors on bail of KD1,000 each, Humaidi said.

They were arrested at an anti-government protest last week against changes to an election law ordered by the emir.

Kuwait witnessed some of the worst violence in its recent history when tens of thousands protested this week at changes to the law they regard as an attempt to limit the prospects for the opposition at a parliamentary vote on December 1.

The opposition will boycott the election. Opec producer Kuwait's oil wealth and generous welfare state has helped it avoid the kind of "Arab Spring" protests that toppled leaders elsewhere in the region.-Reuters




Tags: Kuwait | opposition | arrest | Bail |

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