KUWAIT: Opposition MP Majed Al-Mutairi said yesterday that he and a number of lawmakers are coordinating to form a parliamentary delegation to meet the “political leadership” and try to secure an amnesty for MPs and activists who have been sentenced to jail over storming the National Assembly. The term “political leadership” normally refers to HH the Amir, but the lawmaker did not explicitly say this. Under the Kuwaiti constitution, only the Amir has the constitutional powers to commute sentences or pardon convicts.

The country’s highest court on Sunday sentenced two serving and six former MPs, in addition to five opposition activists, to three and a half years in jail for storming the Assembly during an anti-corruption protest in Nov 2011. The court, whose rulings are final, also sentenced three other activists to two years in jail, acquitted 17 and refrained from punishing 34 others despite finding them guilty. Mutairi said the aim of the mediation bid is to defuse tensions on the domestic front, adding that it’s time to close the years-old case.

Hundreds of opposition MPs and activists stormed the National Assembly following a demonstration in protest against reports that former lawmakers had received millions of dinars in bribes to win their support in crucial voting in the Assembly elected in 2009. Opposition MP Riyadh Al-Adasani yesterday said he was outraged how honest people who protested against corruption have been sent to jail while those legislators who accepted bribes remain free more than a decade after the crime.
Adasani said although he was against the storming of the Assembly building by the activists, he remains shocked how no criminal charges have been pressed against corrupt lawmakers, a number of whom remain members of the current National Assembly. The lawmaker said he was a member of the parliamentary committee that investigated the case in 2012 and again a year later. He said 13 former (and current) MPs have been found to have received millions of dinars in bribes, and this has been well-documented by the Assembly panel.

But he said that the case had been shelved by the public prosecution for administrative reasons, and accordingly, these corrupt lawmakers had not been acquitted or cleared by the judiciary but they have never been tried in court. Adasani said that based on the findings of the committee, 13 former lawmakers received between KD 700,000 and KD 9.7 million in cash bribes that were deposited in their bank accounts. He said that the case should be revived and sent to court so that the corrupt MPs are punished.

By B Izzak