Kuwaiti court grants $17,600 bail to opposition politician over emir insult

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Kuwaiti appeals court granted bail to a prominent opposition politician convicted of insulting the ruling emir, a defense lawyer said on Monday.

Musallam al-Barrak, a former member of parliament, was sentenced to five years in jail last week for remarks made at an opposition rally last year. He was not taken into custody.

The five-year sentence was not overturned on Monday, but the court ruled that Barrak should be released on bail of 5,000 dinars ($17,600) and that his defense team would have a chance to argue his case next month, defense lawyer Dokki al-Hasban told Reuters.

This week, Barrak made his first public appearance since the court sentence last Monday.

He said the calls for reform in Kuwait will continue despite his sentencing, and warned the government not to continue its crackdown on the opposition, according to local Kuwaiti media reports.

Last week, MPs said that they were upset the interior ministry could not bring the former lawmaker to serve his jail term and threatened to quiz the interior minister.

On Thursday, Kuwaiti police fired teargas to disperse thousands of people protesting against the conviction of Barrak, witnesses said, according to Reuters.

Barrak was convicted of making statements deemed offensive to the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, at a public rally on October 15.

He was detained for four days in late October and released on bail. He is also facing trial on several other counts including charges of storming parliament and taking part in protests.

On April 8, his defense team walked out of court after the judge refused requests to hear defense witnesses.

Several opposition tweeters and former MPs have been sentenced to jail terms on charges of insulting the emir.

Kuwait's opposition has been staging protests to demand the dissolution of parliament elected last December on the basis of an electoral law that had been amended by the emir.

The opposition claims that the change is illegal and is aimed at electing a rubber stamp parliament.