Kuwait MPs aim to quiz minister on 'torture' death

Three opposition MPs on Monday filed to question the Kuwaiti interior minister in parliament over the death of a man in a police station allegedly as a result of severe torture.

The request filed by Waleed al-Tabtabai, Shuaib al-Muwaizri and Salem al-Namlan contends that Interior Minister Sheikh Jaber Khaled al-Sabah was politically responsible for the man's death.

The three MPs said they filed to question the minister because of the "death of a citizen under (police) torture, misleading the public and misuse of authority," according to the request.

The lawmakers charged that the minister provided false information to parliament on the case in a cover-up attempt. "Kuwaiti society was shocked when they heard that a young Kuwaiti man died under torture," they said.

Sheikh Jaber, a member of the ruling family, submitted his resignation on January 13 over the affair but cabinet asked him to stay on and follow investigations into the case.

Mohammed Ghazzai al-Mutairi, 35, was dead on arrival at the hospital of the southern oil-rich city of Ahmadi from a nearby police station in the early hours of January 11.

The next day, the interior minister told parliament the man had died after complaining of chest pain and having resisted police when arrested on suspicion of trading in alcohol, which is banned in this conservative Muslim state.

But Sheikh Jaber and the interior ministry both retracted earlier statements, acknowledging there was a criminal suspicion behind the death of Mutairi, and a high-level probe was set up at the ministry.

The probe panel has already referred six policemen to the public prosecution on suspicion of having tortured the man to death.

A separate parliamentary panel formed to investigate the case was scheduled to present its findings to parliament on Monday.

Several MPs have alleged that torture in Kuwaiti police stations is widespread, proposing for parliament to form a new committee to review allegations of police abuse.

The questioning, expected to take place in parliament on February 8, could lead to a no-confidence motion which requires the support of 25 MPs to oust the minister.

Sheikh Jaber survived two previous no-confidence votes on charges of corruption and misleading parliament.

The oil-rich Gulf state has been rocked by frequent political disputes between the opposition and the government over the past five years, during which time parliament has been dissolved three times.

Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmad al-Sabah last month narrowly survived a vote in parliament to oust him following a questioning over a case of police beating up MPs and citizens at a public gathering.

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