A bailiff on Sunday, June 10, warned the Kuwait office of Qatar's satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera that it must pay a $16,400 fine or face having its furniture sold in auction. In April, a Kuwaiti court found Al-Jazeera guilty of insulting Kuwaitis in a program aired last August.
The verdict and the fine became final last week after the station failed to lodge an appeal within the stipulated legal period of 30 days from notification of the ruling. "A law enforcement official visited the office this morning to implement the ruling, but we initiated an objection that will be studied by a judge within a few days," Al-Jazeera lawyer Mishaal Al-Namesh told AFP .
Seeking an injunction, Namesh said he would also file an appeal against the verdict. But Salah Al-Hashem, the lawyer who sued the station on behalf of 22 Kuwaitis, said there was little chance of Al-Jazeera escaping the fine after the verdict had become final.
In the program at the center of the case, Al-Jazeera presenter Sami Haddad accused Kuwaitis of "throwing acid at their Palestinian, Iraqi and Kuwaiti opponents" immediately after the emirate's 1991 liberation from Iraqi occupation.
Al-Jazeera, launched in November 1996, is popular among Arab viewers but has irked many governments for tackling political, social and at times sexual issues, previously regarded as taboo. It opened the Kuwait office in April with approval from Kuwaiti authorities. ― (AFP, Kuwait City)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)