By B Izzak
KUWAIT: The criminal court yesterday sentenced a man to death after convicting him of the kidnap and murder of a mother of two, a crime which shocked the country. The brutal killing of Farah Hamzah Akbar, 32, whose body was dumped outside a hospital on April 20 after she was snatched in broad daylight, sparked protests and calls for justice.
“The verdict hit the nail on the head, and we hope it is backed and implemented so the family can rest,” the Akbar family lawyer Abdulmohsen Al-Qattan said. He added that the case will now be referred to the court of appeal for review. The man, who had persisted in stalking Akbar despite several complaints to authorities, dragged her from a car during the holy month of Ramadan.
Akbar had previously filed two harassment complaints against the man who had proposed to her although she was already married. He had been arrested but was released on bail. The interior ministry said at the time of the murder that Akbar had been stabbed in the chest. The attacker was arrested shortly afterwards and confessed to the crime, sparking calls for his execution.
After the killing, some 200 people, including men, rallied to mourn the victim and demand tougher penalties for violence against women. Kuwaiti women are pushing the boundaries of their society, considered one of the most open in the Gulf. A law against harassment exists but discussions about gender-based violence remain taboo.
“Women in Kuwait demand protection from harassment, abuse and murder by providing them with shelters and laws that protect them,” Lulwa Saleh Al-Mulla, head of the Kuwaiti Women’s Cultural and Social Society, said following the verdict. “Farah’s (killing) was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Enough is enough.”
Meanwhile, opposition MPs and activists yesterday strongly lashed out at the government for arresting elderly poet Jamal Al-Sayer for writing tweets deemed offensive to HH the Amir, and demanded his immediate release. MP Muhannad Al-Sayer, a relative of the poet, said the public prosecution interrogated him for allegedly insulting HH the Amir and spreading false news on Twitter. The prosecution ordered his detention until today, when he will be interrogated again and could be either freed on bail or detained pending trial. In his tweets, Sayer expressed dissatisfaction over the state of affairs in the country.
Opposition MPs strongly criticized the way Sayer was arrested by state security men from his home, saying he should have been summoned to the public prosecution and not arrested in this way. MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari, a lawyer, said if there was any reason to arrest him, Sayer should have been asked to come to the prosecution during working hours and should enjoy legal guarantees.
MP Muhalhal Al-Mudhaf said oppression against people is rejected and what happened to Sayer will “add to the political cost on the government”. Lawyer Adel Abdulhadi held the interior minister responsible for the safety of Sayer, whose health condition requires extreme care.
Former MP Abdulwahab Al-Babtain said the law was changed on March 30, 2021 and the new amendments bar the detention of those accused in freedom of expression cases, wondering why Sayer has been detained. MP Hamad Al-Matar questioned how Sayer was arrested at night and without informing his family, saying authorities must apply the law in summoning people for interrogation. MP Mohammad Al-Mutair said the deep state is using state agencies to “bury” freedoms, adding that arresting Sayer in this way will be added to the grilling of the prime minister.