Kuwait’s Supreme Court has unseated two lawmakers in a historic ruling that overturns a decision by the parliament to keep the membership of MPs sentenced to jail terms ruling that immunity does not place MP’s above the law.
The court, with verdicts that cannot be challenged in any way, said that MPs Waleed Al Tabtabaei and Jamaan Al Harbash could not benefit from the parliament’s decision and had, therefore, to spend their sentences in jail.
The two MPs, currently out of Kuwait, were among a group of 67 defendants that included 10 former and sitting lawmakers who stormed the parliament building in November 2011 during a rally calling for the resignation or removal of then Prime Minister Shaikh Nasser Al Mohammad.
The incident, unprecedented in Kuwait’s history, was labeled “Black Wednesday” and caused an uproar in the country. The suspects insisted they acted “without malicious intention”.
The case remained pending until December 2013 when the Criminal Court acquitted all suspects.
However, the Court of Appeals in November 2017 rejected the ruling and sentenced the defendants to jail terms ranging from one to nine years.
Al Tabtabai and Al Harbash were sentenced to seven years each. The verdict was confirmed by the Cassation Court, the highest court in the country, in May.
However, the parliament in October and under the umbrella of Article 16 of its bylaws and after a heated debate among its members voted to keep the membership of the two lawmakers.
The judges argued that Article 16 made court rulings “hostage” to the will of the parliament and amounted to blatant interference in legal instances and a violation of the principle of separation of powers.
The legislative branch cannot interfere in the work assigned by the Constitution to the judiciary or violate court rulings or undermine their right or independence, they said.
Source Credit: Gulf News