Kuwait sentences MP’s to prison over protest

In this Nov. 16, 2011, file photo, dozens of Kuwaitis briefly storm Kuwait's parliament building as hundreds of others protested outside in Kuwait City, Kuwait. Kuwait's highest court on Sunday ordered an opposition leader and several lawmakers imprisoned for 3½ years over the 2011 storming of parliament during the country's Arab Spring protests. (AP Photo/Nasser Waggi, File)

Over a dozen people received prison time in the ruling by Kuwait’s Court of Cassation, while the others were released on bail or found not guilty.

The defendants were initially acquitted in the years long case, but a shock court decision in November resurrected the charges against them. That decision accused the defendants of using violence against police officers, destroying government property and inciting violence, charges they long have denied.

Amid strikes and confrontations with police, protesters briefly entered parliament on Nov. 16, 2011, waving flags and singing the country’s national anthem.

The activists were initially charged after the storming of the parliament but a lower court in 2013 ruled they had no criminal intent during the incident. However, a surprise appeals court ruling last November sentenced dozens of defendants to prison terms of as much as nine years.

Since then, family members of those charged have held regular nightly protests in front of parliament. While anti-government protests are illegal across other Gulf Arab states, Kuwait has stood out among its neighbors for its representational politics dating back to the 1930s, making the court case that much more surprising.

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