Kuwait emir grants pardon to 50 prisoners

Inmates’ debts of up to 20,000 dinars waived as country prepares to mark National Day and liberation anniversary

Manama: Authorities in Kuwait have released 50 inmates following the order by Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah to pay off debts of citizens and expatriates held in prison for failing to honour their financial commitments.

A list of inmates eligible for release and the defaults they had been punished for had been drawn up, Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas reported.

The ceiling for the debts to be paid off was set at 20,000 Kuwaiti dinars in order to allow for the highest number of inmates to be included in the pardon, the daily added.

On Sunday, the Emir Court said that the emir’s “generous decision was announced in celebration of the auspicious occasions of Kuwait’s 57th National Day and 27th Anniversary of Liberation.”

The money owed by the prisoners will be borne by the emir based on specific criteria, the court said in a statement.

Thousands of Kuwaitis have been facing legal woes after they failed to pay up their debts, resulting in prison terms.

A local society, the Kuwaiti Takaful Society for Prisoners Care founded in 2000 and recognised as a public welfare body in 2005, has been offering financial assistance to prisoners so as to secure their eventual release.

Officials of the Society say their aim is to help prisoners go home and be reunited with their families, especially in cases where those incarcerated had not been aware of the financial implications of some of their actions.

They cited the example of a man who responded to an advertisement by a company promising to help pay off his debt. He wrote out cheques but failed to collect even the smallest amount and eventually got arrested and jailed.

In another case cited by the society, another Kuwaiti was put behind bars because his eldest son got involved with the wrong “friends” and started dipping into his father’s finances to satisfy his material pursuits. The son ultimately misled the father into vouching for him to buy a car but the deal turned out to be for three cars, which the son later sold even as he left his father in a debt mess.

In another case, carried by Kuna, a father bought a plot of land to build a house but ran into problems after his business folded up, which forced him into debt.

As he was about to be arrested, his son stepped in and transferred the debts to his own account. The son was arrested and imprisoned. Takaful said that such stories prompted its initiative to help secure the release of prisoners by paying off their debts.

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