Kuwait appeals court suspends jail for ex-MPs who criticized Emir
KUWAIT CITY- Kuwait's appeals court on Sunday suspended the implementation of a three-year jail term for three former opposition MPs sentenced last week for insulting the emir, their lawyer said.
"The court set them free until their case has been settled," Mohammad al-Jumia wrote on his Twitter account.
When the lower court handed down the jail term on Tuesday, it ordered that the three politicians be jailed immediately, but police did not arrest them and the appeals court agreed to set a quick date to review their case.
The three former lawmakers attended Sunday's court hearing at which the judge detained them briefly before issuing the ruling.
However, the court asked the three -- Khaled al-Tahus, Falah al-Sawwagh and Bader al-Dahum -- to pay bail of $17,850 each and set March 10 for the next hearing.
The former MPs were charged with undermining the status of the emir during an address at a public gathering on October 10 in which they warned that any amendment to the electoral law could lead to street protests.
Kuwait later saw protests at which demonstrators said an amendment to the electoral law allowed the government to influence election results and elect a rubber-stamp assembly.
The opposition boycotted a December 1 general election in protest at the amended law.
The lower court sentence had sparked peaceful street protests, and dozens of youth activists have staged sit-ins every night since in protest against jail terms on Twitter users and activists.
So far, Kuwaiti courts have given jail terms of between two and 10 years to at least four opposition tweeters for allegedly insulting the emir. Many more are on trial on similar charges.
OPEC member Kuwait, which produces around 3.0 million barrels of oil per day, has been rocked by ongoing political disputes since mid-2006 that have stalled development despite abundant surpluses.