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09 December 2023

Kuwait minister offers to quit over torture death


Kuwait's Interior Minister Sheikh Jaber Khaled al-Sabah submitted his resignation Thursday over the death of a detainee allegedly as a result of police torture, said a government official.

"The minister today submitted his resignation to the prime minister who can accept or reject it," the official told AFP, requesting anonymity.

Sheikh Jaber was unreachable for comment related to his reported resignation, but the electronic newsletter Alaan quoted him as saying: "I submitted my resignation in line with my duty and responsibility."

"I am not honoured to lead a ministry that attacks citizens," said the minister, who is a member of the Al-Sabah ruling family.

Opposition MP Faisal al-Muslim welcomed the move, which he said was brave, while urging Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah to accept the resignation.

Independent MP Hussein Mazyed said the resignation was because of the grave implications over the death of Mohammad Ghazzai al-Mutairi, a citizen in his 30s.

An interior ministry-appointed forensic commission found on Thursday that the death of Mutairi at a police station was a suspected criminal act, the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also referred the case along with the suspects to the public prosecution service to take any necessary legal action, it said.

Mutairi died on Tuesday on arrival at hospital from a police station with his legs and hands tied and bruises all over his body, opposition MPs said.

The ministry initially said he died after feeling pain in the chest and recalled he resisted police when he was arrested on suspicion of trading in alcohol, which is banned in this conservative Muslim state.

But the ministry statement on Thursday said the interior minister had ordered a new probe into who provided the false information in the first ministry statement.

Kuwaiti MPs decided unanimously on Wednesday after a stormy debate to form a parliamentary panel to investigate the allegations, and gave it two weeks to submit a report.

During the debate, MP Mazyed said Mutairi was tortured mercilessly in the police station and that "they inserted a stick into his rectum."

Several MPs also called on the interior minister to resign.