Kuwait court orders pre-trial detention of former premier, newspapers say

DUBAI (Reuters) - Kuwait’s ministerial court ordered the pre-trial detention of former prime minister and ruling family member Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah in a case over the alleged mishandling of military funds, three Kuwaiti newspapers said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al Sabah of Kuwait addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Al Rai and Al Jarida newspapers said Sheikh Jaber and former defence and interior minister Sheikh Khalid al-Jarrah al-Sabah rejected the charges directed against them.

The court denied a request to release Sheikh Khalid, also a senior member of the Gulf Arab state’s ruling family, Al Jarida and Al Qabas newspapers said.

The newspapers said the court also ordered a ban on publishing information about the case based on a request from the defence team. It set the next hearing for April 27.

A government spokesman was not available for comment on the court order.

Sheikh Jaber had in 2019 resigned as prime minister, a post he had held since 2011, after lawmakers sought a no-confidence vote against Sheikh Khalid, who was interior minister at the time.

The then defence minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmed had issued a statement two days after the government resignation, saying the cabinet stood down to avoid addressing mismanagement of some 240 million dinars ($790 million) in military funds before he assumed office.

The ailing Sheikh Nasser died last December just months after his father and ruling emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad passed away.

After the government’s resignation, the late emir had reappointed Sheikh Jaber as prime minister but he rebuffed the offer citing media campaigns against him.

The corruption allegations had led to public protests outside parliament, the Gulf region’s most outspoken with the power to question ministers. Senior posts in the appointed cabinet are held by members of the ruling family.

Kuwait’s current prime minister has said combating corruption was a government priority.

Reporting by Ahmed Hagagy; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Angus MacSwan