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Aussie mother jailed two years for 'insulting' Kuwaiti emir
Date: April 22 2009 - Georgina Robinson


An Australian woman is being detained by Kuwaiti authorities over allegedly insulting the Emir.
The lawyer for a Sydney woman sentenced to two years in a Kuwaiti prison will try to obtain a lesser sentence or early release for his client, the Department of Foreign Affairs says.

Nasrah Alshamery was convicted yesterday of insulting the country's ruler after a row broke out at Kuwait International Airport when the Sydney family of nine were on holiday there last year.

DFAT confirmed a criminal court sentenced the 43-year-old mother of seven, who suffers from diabetes and is on a disability pension, to two years in jail.

A DFAT spokesperson said Alshamery's Kuwaiti lawyer, Falah al-Hajraf, would seek a reduced sentence or early release.

"I will appeal the verdict tomorrow," Mr al-Hajraf told the media earlier.

"My client has denied the charge during the trial and insisted she committed no wrongdoing."

Two of Alshamery's sons were also arrested and are being investigated for allegedly insulting the emir.

In Sydney, the remaining six family members learned of their mother's fate early today.

Mark Williams, a lawyer and family friend helping the Alshamerys, said he would talk to the family later today.

Alshamery's teenage son Adel said the family did not want to talk to the media because their case felt hopeless.

"The Government won't do anything so what's the point," Adel said from their Sydney home.

DFAT and the Office of the Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephen Smith, reiterated today that the Australian Government could not intervene in the judicial processes of another country.

"Australian officials have been advised by her lawyer that Mrs Alshamery will appeal her sentence," a spokesperson for Mr Smith said.

"It's not appropriate for the Minister to comment on this case while further legal options or proceedings are under consideration."

A statement from DFAT said the Australian Ambassador to Kuwait had raised the family's allegations they were mistreated by airport staff with Kuwait's deputy Prime Minister and acting chief of protocol back in January and February.

"The (Ambassador) is seeking further meetings with senior Kuwaiti officials to again register the Australian Government's high level of interest in this case," it stated.

Earlier today, Alshamery's husband, Sulaiman, implored the Kuwaiti emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, for a pardon that would keep his family together.

"The emir is a good and respectable man," Mr Alshamery said. "I beseech him to pardon her. She has kids, she has back problems, psychological problems and heart problems."

He insisted his wife did not insult the emir.

Alshamery was arrested in December after arriving at Kuwait International Airport with her family on vacation. Her lawyer said a misunderstanding between family members and an airport official turned into a melee during which the woman was accused of screaming obscenities and insulting the emir.

She denied the charges, and her lawyer claims witness testimony was contradictory. Her family said in January that airport staff were aggressive and stamped on their passports.

The constitution of the Gulf country that sits on 10 per cent of the world's oil reserves says the head of state is "immune and inviolable". Public insults of him by Kuwaitis or foreigners are not tolerated.

Two of Alshamery's sons, in their early 20s, were also detained but they were later released on bail; it is not clear yet if they will face trial.

But Mr al-Hajraf said that police had not yet pressed charges against the two sons and "it looks as if the case is over".

The husband and the rest of the children were deported.

Mr Williams said Mr Alshamery was his wife's full time carer because of her health problems, which included type two diabetes, lower back problems and depression.

The statement from DFAT said Alshamery had access to medical treatment, her luggage and could purchase food supplies.

Consular officers last visited Alshamery in detention in March. They also attended all bail hearings in January, February and March, the statement said.

"While she remains in detention the Embassy will continue to seek to visit Mrs Alshamery regularly," DFAT stated.

Alshamery and her husband were born in Kuwait and emigrated to Australia in 1999.

They had previously lived in Kuwait among the some 100,000 bidoons, or stateless Arabs.

Bidoons have no right to work, obtain a birth certificate for their babies or even get their marriage certificate attested.

The Government says there are 70,000 bidoons in Kuwait, but human rights groups place the number at 120,000.

- with AP, AFP

Sydney woman arrested in Kuwait after arguing with immigration officials says security guards bashed her father and brothers.

Behind bars ... Nasrah Alshamery, second left, is pictured, top, on holiday with her family. Left to right, Ahmed, Soliman, Abdulrahman, Wafa, and twins Mohamed and Adel.

Bottom left, Abdulaziz Alshamery, 22, and Abdulrahman, 18, in police custody. Bottom right, Abdulrahman, foreground, and Abdulaziz, standing in background, in their prison cell in Kuwait.

Their mother is being held in a cell with other women opposite them, accused of insulting Sheikh Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, centre

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