Kuwaiti court refuses to release top writer

DUBAI- Kuwait's criminal court on Monday rejected demands by defence lawyers to release prominent writer Mohammad Abdulqader al-Jassem who has been behind bars for more than 40 days, his lawyer said.
"The court rejected our demands and set the next hearing for June 28," Abdullah al-Ahmad told AFP by telephone from Kuwait City.

Kuwaiti writer Mohammad Abdulqader al-Jassem
Kuwaiti writer Mohammad Abdulqader al-Jassem
Jassem, 54, has been charged with undermining the emir's status, attacking the regime and spreading false information damaging to Kuwait's national interests. The charges carry a penalty of several years in jail.
In the first hearing on May 24, Jassem categorically denied the charges saying they are politically-motivated.
The lawyer said that he and the rest of the defence team are refusing to begin their arguments until the court allows them to read a medical report by a court-appointed commission on the health of the ailing writer.
"We have received confirmed information that the medical report contained a recommendation that Jassem should spend his detention in hospital," Ahmad said.
"This is clearly a politically-motivated move to alleviate international and local pressure for the release of Jassem," Ahmad charged.
According to his family, Jassem underwent open heart surgery and about 10 lesser heart operations. They have argued that his life is at risk in jail.
The lawyer said that a number of international and Gulf human rights activists attended the court hearing to show their support for Jassem.
All leading human rights organisations have sent letters to Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah urging the immediate release of Jassem, who is also a well-known journalist and lawyer.
The lawsuit against Jassem was filed by the minister of the royal court, Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad, the elder son of Kuwait's ruler.
Jassem was detained for 12 days in November over a lawsuit filed by the Kuwaiti prime minister alleging slander.
On April 1, the lower court sentenced him to six months in jail and a fine of 17,500 dollars but suspended the jail term until the ruling of the appeals court.

Tuesday, June 22nd 2010

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