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Kuwait top court acquits IOC powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad

Kuwait City (AFP) – Kuwait’s supreme court on Monday upheld the acquittal of Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah — one of the most powerful men in world sport — on charges of insulting the judiciary.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed, cleared Sheikh Ahmad — a member of the FIFA executive committee, a top International Olympic Committee member and head of Asia’s Olympic body — of insulting the public prosecutor and inciting public unrest.

The senior ruling family member was sentenced in December to six months in jail by a lower court for casting doubt on the integrity of the judiciary.

But an appeals court overturned that conviction in January.

Sheikh Ahmad, a nephew of Kuwaiti ruler Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, had denied the charges and considered the lower court sentence a personal attack against him.

The case erupted after FIFA and the IOC in October suspended Kuwait from all sporting activities over alleged government interference in competitions in the oil-rich Gulf state.

The FIFA suspension means Kuwait cannot take part in qualifying for the 2018 football World Cup and the IOC suspension means Kuwaiti athletes are barred from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next month.

Kuwait’s government has separately filed a lawsuit against Sheikh Ahmad, his brother Sheikh Talal — the chairman of Kuwait Olympic Committee — and 13 other officials over the bans.

It is also demanding hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Parliament last month passed legislation introducing sweeping changes to sports laws but several MPs said the amendments were unlikely to lead to the ban being lifted.  

Sheikh Ahmad, a former oil minister, resigned from the cabinet in 2011 following a political dispute.

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