Kuwaiti court acquits 70 accused over 2011 storming of parliament

December 10, 2013 - 6:18:56 am

Prominent opposition leader and former MP Mussallam Al Barrak (centre), celebrates with opposition activists after a Kuwaiti court acquitted him and 70 opposition activists including nine former MPs. 
KUWAIT: A Kuwait court yesterday acquitted 70 people, including nine former lawmakers, of storming the parliament in 2011 in an unprecedented protest against the then prime minister, a senior member of the ruling family.

Kuwait, a US ally and major oil exporter, has largely weathered the popular uprisings that ousted autocratic rulers elsewhere in the Arab Spring, thanks in part to its generous welfare state.

But the blocking of a request by lawmakers to question then prime minister Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah about corruption allegations prompted the 2011 protesters to force their way into parliament, in contrast to previous peaceful sit-ins. Sheikh Nasser, a nephew of the emir, denies the allegations.

Yesterday’s acquittal of the protesters “was expected because there was no crime but it was a peaceful expression (of discontent) as a reaction for cancelling the questioning (of the prime minister),” Fawaz Al Jadey, a member of the defence team, said. He said the verdict was subject to an appeal by the prosecutor.

State news agency Kuna also said the court had acquitted the 70 defendants. Protesters stormed the parliament, demanding it should be sacked, the day after it voted against the request to question Sheikh Nasser in the assembly.

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