Three Kuwaiti royals get jail for insulting emir
Kuwait City // Three members of Kuwait’s ruling Al Sabah family were among seven people handed jail terms on Monday for insulting the country’s emir and the judiciary.
The court sentenced the three royals and two others to five years each, a sixth man for one year and handed a 10-year term to a seventh man who was tried in his absence. Another six men were acquitted.
They were charged with using Whatsapp and Twitter to insult the emir and publish false news accusing judges of accepting bribes.
The royals include Sheikh Athbi Al Fahad Al Sabah, a nephew of the emir and the former head of the secret service police.
He is also the younger brother of Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, a member of the International Olympic Committee.
Also convicted was Sheikh Khalifa Ali Al Sabah, the editor of Al Watan newspaper and television which were closed by the government for violating corporate finance rules in a decision ratified by the courts.
The defendants remain free on bail and can challenge their convictions in the appeals and supreme courts.
Kuwaiti legislators and media commentators often attack the government and senior ruling family members over policy, but the emir has the final say in political matters and criticising him is forbidden.
Dozens of Kuwaitis have been jailed for comments made in public and online that the courts deemed insulting.
It is not the first time that ruling family members have been prosecuted for sensitive remarks. Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad was given a suspended prison sentence and a fine in December 2015 for quoting remarks by the emir without permission.
In 2012 police released a ruling family member after holding him for several days over remarks on Twitter in which he accused the authorities of corruption and called for political reforms.
* Agence France-Presse and Reuters
Updated: May 31, 2016 04:00 AM