Opposition protest, a file photo.
Kuwait charges opposition leader with insulting emir
Kuwait, October 31, 2012
Kuwaiti prosecutors have charged an opposition leader with insulting the state's ruler, a defence lawyer said on Wednesday, in a case likely to fuel tension before a parliamentary election on December 1.
Musallam Al-Barrak, an outspoken former member of parliament was picked up from his home on Monday night, two weeks after an opposition rally at which he made rare critical remarks about the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
Prosecutors have charged Barrak with encroaching on the pillars of the emirate, insulting the emir and infringing his authorities, said the lawyer, who asked not to be named.
He said prosecutors had ordered Barrak held for 10 days pending investigation and transferred him to the central prison.
While Kuwait allows more free speech than some of its neighbours, the constitution says the emir is "immune and inviolable". Insulting him carries a penalty of up to five years in jail.
Three other former lawmakers were earlier detained on similar charges, questioned and freed on bail pending trial, scheduled to start on November 13.
A Kuwaiti government source said Barrak had violated laws enshrined in the constitution.
"They outline the rights and responsibilities of all Kuwaiti citizens, including former MP Mr Al-Barrak, whose arrest was predictable, having broken our country's libel laws," he said.
The government has since banned gatherings of more than 20 people and pushed ahead with preparations for the election. - Reuters