July 8, 2018 / 12:10 PM / 4 months ago

Kuwait's highest court reduces MPs' jail sentences

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait’s highest court on Sunday reduced jail terms for two lawmakers and a prominent opposition politician who forced their way into the parliament building in 2011.

Protesters burst into parliament in 2011 after lawmakers had been denied the right to question then prime minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah about corruption allegations.

The Court of Cassation reduced to 3-1/2 years from five years sentences handed down by an appeals court in November to lawmakers Jamaan al-Harbash and Waleed al-Tabtabai, the al-Qabas newspaper reported.

It reduced to 3-1/2 years from seven years a jail term for outspoken former parliament deputy Musallam al-Barrak.

Barrak in April 2017 finished serving a two-year prison sentence on separate charges for insulting the emir in 2012.

Four former members of parliament were also sentenced to 3-1/2 years.

The MPs have a considerable political following, especially among Kuwait’s traditional tribes which have influence in areas outside the main cities.

Kuwait, a U.S. ally, avoided mass Arab Spring-style unrest though citizens held large street protests in 2012 after ruler Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah changed the electoral law.

While Kuwait allows more freedom of speech than some other Gulf states, the emir has the last say in state affairs.

There have been a series of political trials and authorities have revoked the citizenship of some Kuwaitis in recent years which has drawn criticism abroad and anger at home.

Reporting by Ahmed Hagagy; writing by Dahlia Nehme; editing by Jason Neely

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