Photo of an earlier day of protest in Kuwait City against the arrest of Al-Barrak (AFP/The National)
Kuwait riot police on Sunday fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of opposition protesters who were demanding the release of a detained opposition leader.Witnesses said riot police in armoured vehicles fired tear gas and stun grenades at the protesters as soon as they marched toward a courts complex in the capital Kuwait City, forcing them to flee.
Police chased them into narrow streets of Kuwait City markets to ensure they do not reach the courts complex, where opposition leader Musallam Al Barrak is scheduled to face trial on Monday.The interior ministry said a number of protesters had been held while rights activist Mohammad Al Humaidi said around 30 people were arrested. Activists said a number of protesters were wounded with at least one of them hospitalised. It was the fifth night of violence in Kuwait sparked by the arrest of Al Barrak, a former MP.
The public prosecutor on Wednesday detained Al Barrak for 10 days pending trial on charges of insulting the judiciary and slandering the head of the supreme judicial council, Faisal Al Marshed.The opposition has denounced the legal action against Al Barrak as unlawful and “politically motivated”, but the emir on Sunday strongly defended the judiciary. At a public rally last month, Al Barrak alleged 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.
Most opposition groups are not represented in parliament after boycotting a July 2013 election in protest at Kuwait’s amended electoral law.