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  • Writer's pictureThe Paladins

The Battle for the Kuwaiti Emiracy: Chapter Four

In March 2015, a complaint laid before the Geneva Prosecutor's Office by one of two pretenders to the Kuwait throne led to a gargantuan battle between two branches of the Kuwaiti Royal Family. That legal dispute has now been underway for over six years; and it shows no sign of ending. What was the dispute about, and why have the world's diplomats been unable to resolve it?

In 2013, a series of videos, ostensibly showing a senior member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family and former Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah engaged in wrongful acts, circulated throughout Kuwait on social media. The videos were lewd in some areas and indicated financial wrongdoing in others. Nascent Kuwaiti media was gripped by this scandal: Nasser insisted that the videos were fake or forged; whereas his cousin and political opponent, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Sabah, asserted that they were genuine. The debate went round and round, and resulted in a number of opposition media organisations in Kuwait being closed for offense to the Royal Family. Ahmed hired lawyers and experts to verify the videos, so as to defeat Sheikh Nasser's protestations of defamation and forgery. Nasser started legal proceedings in Geneva, Switzerland, with a view to demonstrating that the videos were indeed forgeries and seeking conclusions to the effect that he had been grossly defamed. This became known as the "Kuwaiti Videos Affair".

The legal proceedings in Geneva were beset with irregularities. Both men are important international figures. Sheikh Nasser is reputed to be one of the richest men in the world, and the principal powerhouse and mediator in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Ahmed is an international sports financier, who presides over an organisation with a curious corporate structure called the "Olympic Council of Asia". Great money was thrown into the Geneva legal proceedings, that became the most complex legal proceedings brought in the history of the Geneva court system.

Nevertheless there was only really one issue in this litigation: were the videos circulating in Kuwait in 2013, courtesy of Sheikh Ahmed and his right hand Hamad Al-Haroun, apparently showing Sheikh Nasser engaged in atrocious irregularities genuine or were they fakes, with actors and/or subtitles showing false conversations? To prove his case, Ahmed hired English lawyers and forensic experts to analyse the videos and demonstrate their veracity. But the wheels of justice grind slowly yet small.

In the course of satellite litigation commenced by Ahmed's sidekick Al-Haroun, the High Court in London decided to exonerate both the principal English lawyer involved and the experts he hired.

Ahmed's and Al-Haroun's reputations lay in tatters. The Olympic Council of Asia appears to be little more than a money-laundering organisation, in which Ahmed ran a business of purchasing member states' votes on international sporting bodies that make decisions on a one-member one-vote basis, thereby acquiring the control of those international sporting bodies' finances; whereas Al-Haroun became notorious as a serial forgerer and fugitive from justice, facing three INTERPOL warrants issued by Kuwait (where he is due to serve 10 years' imprisonment for forgery); Qatar (seven years for the same category of offense); and Jordan. In addition he faces extradition proceedings from the United Kingdom to Switzerland for forgery. Al-Haroun is a notorious international criminal whose photograph has disappeared from the internet and whose location is unknown. However it is speculated that he is travelling in jurisdictions unknown upon a so-called "golden passport": a passport typically issued by a Caribbean island jurisdiction in exchange for money. It cannot be imagined that so notorious an international criminal as Hamad Al-Haroun will be able to stay at liberty indefinitely.

No lawyers or experts, having reviewed the original videos circulating in Kuwait in 2013, could ever have reached the conclusion that these videos were genuine. What Ahmed and Al-Haroun did was a disgrace.

The wheels of justice continue to grind in this case.

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