Kuwait drops court case over 'plot' tape

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 18, 2015 10:27 AM

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait's public prosecutor has dropped an inquiry into a complaint over a recording suggesting that prominent figures were involved in a plot to overthrow the Gulf state's ruling system, ruling the tape was bogus, the state news agency said.

Government investigators determined that the recordings were not authentic and had been edited, the public prosecution was quoted as saying, as quoted by KUNA news agency. "Thus, the public prosecution has ruled out the suspicion of a criminal act ... and decided to cancel the case number."

The prosecutor opened the case in December 2013 after a legal complaint by Sheikh Ahmed al-Fahad al-Sabah, a ruling family member, that included evidence of a possible criminal nature against two former officials accusing them of a plot to overthrow the system, KUNA said.

The recording, which included both audio and video clips, appeared to suggest that the two, former prime minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah and former parliament speaker Jassem al-Kharafi, were also suspected of contacting a foreign power, of money laundering and stealing public funds, it added.

The case featured extensively in local media and prompted a rare statement from the ruling emir's office telling people to stop discussing the case in order to preserve national unity.

A major OPEC oil producer and U.S. ally, Kuwait has a lively press and the most open political system in the Gulf Arab region. Its 50-member assembly can question government ministers and block legislation, but the emir has final say in state affairs.

The emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, came to power in 2006 after his ailing predecessor stepped down. Sheikh Sabah's brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, is next in line to become emir in the 250-year old dynasty.

(Reporting by Ahmed Hagagy, writing by Sami Aboudi, Editing by William Maclean/Mark Heinrich)