Political tensions rise in Kuwait over opposition leader

21 April 2013

Kuwait special forces raid home of opposition leader Musallam al-Barrak and clash with supporters

In a sign of escalating tension, Kuwait’s special forces raided the home of opposition leader, Musallam al-Barrak, firing tear gas and stun grenades at demonstrators who later marched on a nearby police station.

The raid came on 18 April, following Al-Barrak’s sentencing by Kuwait’s criminal court to five years in prison on charges of insulting the country’s emir during a rally in October, according to local press reports.

The raid aimed at arresting Al-Barrak, a former parliamentarian, was unsuccessful, as he was not at the address at that time. An estimated 10,000 Kuwaitis marched from Al-Barrak’s diwaniya to Andalus police station in Kuwait City following the raid.

Al-Barrak has stated he is willing to go to prison if the authorities produce an arrest warrant from the court. Al-Barrak has since returned home and now remains at his residence. Pro-government members of parliament have called for the National Guard to use force to arrest Al-Barrak if he does not come forward.

Kuwait’s Appeal Court will review Al-Barrak’s case on 22 April. It has the power to temporarily freeze the sentence handed down to him until a verdict is reached. However, according to the local English-language Kuwait Times, he must first attend the court session.

“If the judge decides against freezing the jail term, Al-Barrak will be arrested immediately and sent to jail pending the trial,” says the report.

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