x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Kuwaiti opposition figure granted bail to appeal conviction for insulting emir

Musallam Al Barrak has paid bail of 5,000 Kuwaiti dinars (Dh64,400), and although his conviction has not been overturned, his appeal hearing will continue on May 13. Elizabeth Dickinson reports

A leading Kuwaiti opposition figure has been granted bail as he appeals a conviction and five-year sentence for insulting the country's emir.

Musallam Al Barrak, a former MP, paid bail of 5,000 Kuwaiti dinars (Dh64,400), said his lawyer Abdullah Al Ahmad.

His conviction was not overturned however, and his appeal hearing will continue on May 13.

Al Barrak was convicted last Monday of insulting the emir in a speech he gave in October last year, in which he warned Kuwait's leader against "autocratic rule".

Two days after his sentencing, security forces attempted to arrest him at his home, but he evaded authorities and remained in hiding through the weekend, saying he would only turn himself in after seeing the original arrest warrant.

Since he was charged in late October last year, Al Barrak's legal proceedings have been followed closely by opposition supporters, many of whom cheered his release outside the courtroom yesterday.

Last Wednesday, thousands of supporters marched near Al Barrak's home to protest against his conviction. Security forces used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. The interior ministry warned the next day that "any form of riot, violence or lawlessness" would meet a "firm response".

Although the verdict was not overturned, Al Barrak's bail could calm tensions between the government and the opposition, which had threatened further protests if he were arrested.