Lawmaker warns government over raising charges

Former MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei

KUWAIT: Islamist former MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei yesterday pleaded to HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to issue a pardon for 15 opposition activists, including several ex-MPs, who were handed jail terms for taking part in the storming of the Assembly building in Nov 2011. This is the first time that a leading opposition figure has called on the Amir to pardon the activists, a majority of whom have been living abroad since before the final verdict was issued in July.

Tabtabaei said on his Twitter account that "everyone knows" that the activists, who include eight former lawmakers, were not guilty and were handed tough jail terms not for entering the Assembly building during a protest, but for allegedly assaulting two police officers. He added that even after the two police officers withdrew their accusations, the cassation court still issued a three-year jail term.

"Therefore, we plead to His Highness the Amir, the father of all and the symbol of the nation, to kindly issue a special pardon for all those jailed in the case of entering the National Assembly building to erase an unfair sentence against them," Tabtabaei said. The former lawmaker said such moves are not strange for the Amir, whose great deeds have reached many other countries. Tabtabaei and Jamaan Al-Harbash were stripped of their parliamentary seats as a result of the jail term. That led to holding a by-election last week to replace them.

Meanwhile, opposition Islamist MP Mohammad Al-Dallal yesterday warned the government against hiking charges of any public service, because this involves a violation of the country's law. He said the Assembly issued in Dec 1994 a law barring the government from increasing charges on public services without a law from the Assembly. He said that in recent weeks, a number of government departments like the Municipality increased charges for some of their services, which is a clear violation of the 1994 law. Dallal said that if the government wants to increase any charges, it should do it through a law passed by the National Assembly.

In the meantime, MP Riyadh Al-Adasani said that a decision on allegations of inflated accounts of some MPs and businessmen is expected to be issued on Thursday. The lawmaker had told the government that some local banks have complained to the Central Bank and the finance ministry about an abnormal increase in the accounts of some MPs and merchants. Adasani then called on the government to take action against those involved and warned that if no action is taken, he will grill the finance minister.

By B Izzak