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Kuwait police fire teargas to break up opposition demo


AFP Photo

Kuwaiti police fired teargas and stun grenades to disperse an opposition rally demanding the release of prominent dissident Mussallam al-Barrak, activists said on Thursday.

The public prosecutor on Wednesday ordered Barrak, a former MP, to be held for 10 days after he was questioned for allegedly insulting the judiciary.

On Thursday, the court turned down a petition filed by Barrak's lawyers to release him until his trial, defence lawyer Thamer al-Jadaei wrote on his Twitter account.

The court set a July 7 date to start hearing the case against Barrak, who is charged with insulting the supreme judicial council and slander against its chairman.

Soon after the court's rejection, the opposition went into an emergency meeting to decide on further action.

Thousands of people gathered at Barrak's residence southwest of Kuwait City on Wednesday night and marched on the nearby jail where the former opposition leader was detained, the activists said.

Police intervened when hundreds of protesters reached the prison, firing teargas and stun grenades to disperse them. There were no reports of any casualties.

Smaller protests were also reportedly staged in other parts of the oil-rich Gulf state.

The opposition leader is accused of slandering and insulting the supreme judicial council and its chairman, Faisal al-Marshed, in remarks made at a public rally on June 10.

Opposition groups strongly criticised the legal action against him as unlawful and "politically motivated".

At the rally, Barrak charged that former senior officials, including ruling family members, had stolen tens of billions of dollars from public funds and engaged in money laundering.

He also criticised the judiciary.

The scandal was later linked to claims that the same officials were seen in video footage plotting a coup.

Those allegations were made in a lawsuit filed last month by Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, a senior ruling family member and former energy minister.

Sheikh Ahmad is scheduled to be questioned on Thursday by the public prosecutor as a witness.

Most opposition groups are not represented in parliament after having boycotted a July 2013 election in protest at Kuwait's amended electoral law.

Date created : 2014-07-03