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Ex-minister to sue Kuwaiti government over fraud charges

Lawyers for a former Kuwaiti minister, who is also a member of the ruling family...

Lawyers for a former Kuwaiti minister, who is also a member of the ruling family, announced plans yesterday to sue the Kuwaiti government for allegedly charging their client with fraud.

The lawyers for Sheikh Ali Al Khalifa Al Sabah, a former oil and finance minister, said in a statement obtained by Reuters that they would take the government and the oil minister to court for filing a "false case".

A source close to Sheikh Ali said that Kuwaiti Oil Minister Adel Al Subaihi had yesterday refiled a case of alleged fraud against Sheikh Ali. The government had earlier this month filed a similar complaint, but it was dismissed by a ministerial court as vague and incomplete.

The source said the new case had been referred to a ministerial investigating committee, but the committee refused to accept the documents as its members had resigned on Sunday to protest against what they called interference by members of the country's elected parliament in the judiciary.

Sheikh Ali has been the target of charges of fraud since January 1993 but the cases against him have so far failed to materialise. He has denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the charges. The government came under attack in Kuwait's parliament after the court dismissed the previous case against Sheikh Ali.

The decision also triggered an uproar in the assembly which gave the government until June 2 to refile the original case against the Kuwaiti official for his alleged role in a $130 million fraud case involving the state's oil tanker company.

It also demanded the filing of a second complaint which also involved Sheikh Ali's alleged role in illegal debt payments from public funds. Since parliament was restored in Kuwait a year after the 1991 Gulf War, some deputies have been leading wide-ranging probes into alleged abuse of public funds and have repeatedly named Sheikh Ali as a main suspect.