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'Mum's free': Family celebrates Kuwait jail release

Nasrah Al Shamery is due to arrive back in Australia at the weekend.
By Karen Barlow for AM

The family of an Australian woman jailed for the past five-and-a-half months in Kuwait is celebrating after a surprise decision by Kuwaiti authorities to deport her.

Nasrah Al Shamery, 44, was sentenced in April to two years' jail for assaulting the ruling Emir of Kuwait.

The charge stemmed from an alleged insult against the Emir after arriving at Kuwait International Airport with her family on holiday.

Mrs Al Shamery always maintained her innocence and there was an appeal last week, but the reason for the sudden deportation is not clear.

Mrs Al Shamery is due back in Australia at the weekend.

Her family, who live in Sydney, hoped she would be deported but were not expecting it.

One of Mrs Al Shamery's seven children, Ahmad Al Shamery, says he did not expect this decision.

"They said 'mum's free' and in a couple of days she will be here," he said.

Ahmad says his family and the lawyers attempted to appeal the jail sentence, but they had little confidence in the system.

He says at this stage no-one know actually knows why she is being released.

Family friend and lawyer Mark Williams is trying to find out more.

"What I infer from that is that she has probably been deported from that country but they are not quite sure whether the conviction has been overturned or anything like that," he said.

But the joy of the imminent return is tempered by a massive legal bill and concern for Mrs Al Shamery's health.

Ill with diabetes, hearing, heart, breathing and back problems before she went to prison, her health deteriorated further in jail to the point where she could not walk.

"I understand she is in a wheelchair right now and she is suffering ... a few pains but you know that doesn't matter as long as we got her back," Ahmad said.

"We will have to look after her."

Ahmad has vowed never to go back to Kuwait.

"This is my country. I am going to stay here," he said.

Mrs Al Shamery and her husband were born in Kuwait and emigrated to Australia in 1999.

Emir insult: Sydney mother released
Arjun Ramachandran - June 12, 2009


An Australian woman is being detained by Kuwaiti authorities over allegedly insulting the Emir.
The Sydney woman sentenced to two years in a Kuwaiti prison for insulting the country's ruler has been released and is due home in Australia this weekend.

Nasrah Alshamery, 44, had appealed her sentence last week and was waiting to hear the outcome when her sentence was suddenly suspended, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Her lawyer in Kuwait informed DFAT of the decision yesterday and said Mrs Alshamery would be deported, a spokeswoman said.

Ahmad Alshamery, one of Mrs Alshamery's seven children, said his mother was expected back in Australia on the weekend.

"They said 'mum's free' and in a couple of days she will be here," Ahmad told ABC.

Family friend and lawyer Mark Williams said the exact circumstances of Mrs Alshamery's release were not yet clear.

"While her conviction has not been overturned, she's been released and effectively deported from Kuwait," he said.

He believed the Kuwaiti's government's decision to deport Mrs Alshamery's was a "satisfactory political solution to a sticky problem".

"And she's very happy about that I can tell you," he said.

Mrs Alshamery was convicted of insulting the country's ruler in April after a row broke out at Kuwait International Airport when the Sydney family of nine were on holiday there last year.

Her lawyer said a misunderstanding between family members and an airport official led to the row, in which she was accused of screaming obscenities and insulting the emir.

She denied the charges, and her lawyer claimed witness testimony was contradictory.

While the family were thrilled at the news of Mrs Alshamery's return, there were concerns for the health, Mr Williams said.

Mrs Alshamery was on a full pension in Australia with back and heart problems before her trip to Kuwait.

"The government doesn't just give out pensions in this day and age, her health was not great," Mr Williams said.

"She was being denied treatment over there at some point as well ... and there was an overlay of depression.

"But she's still alive and coming back home."

The family had also battled financial problems throughout the last year, Mr Williams said.

"I think they managed to pay the lawyers - they borrowed and scrimped and saved and got money as best they could.

"They are an immigrant family in Austraia, they're not wealthy people.

"Fortunately they belonged to a community that helped them. But they had sold things [to pay the bills]."

Mr Williams, who coaches the soccer team of Mrs Alshamery's 12-year-old twins Mohamed and Adel, said her children had tried to get on with their lives as best they could during the turmoil.

"They play football and are very much involved, they train two nights a week and play on the weekend - that sort of thing for a 12-year-old is their life.

"But of course it affects them, they're young kids and they were missing their mum."

Happy surprise as Australian woman released from Kuwait jail
Karen Barlow reported this story on Friday, June 12, 2009

An Australian family is celebrating after a surprise decision in Kuwait to deport their mother who has been imprisoned for the past five-and-a-half months. Forty-four-year-old Nasrah Al Shamery was sentenced in April to two years' jail for assaulting the ruling Emir of Kuwait, an assault which was actually an alleged insult against the Emir.

TONY EASTLEY: The family of an Australian woman jailed for the past five-and-a-half months in Kuwait is celebrating after a surprise decision by Kuwaiti authorities to deport her.

Forty-four-year-old Nasrah Al Shamery was sentenced in April to two years' jail for assaulting the ruling Emir of Kuwait. The charge stemmed from an alleged insult against the Emir.

Mrs Al Shamery always maintained her innocence and there was an appeal last week, but the reason for the sudden deportation is not clear.

Karen Barlow reports.

KAREN BARLOW: After lodging an appeal against Nasrah Al Shamery's conviction and two year sentence, deportation is a result the Al Shamery family were hoping for but not expecting.

AHMAD AL SHAMERY: Are they going to give her, you know, for another two years? But when they set her free, oh my God! I can't explain myself (laughs).

KAREN BARLOW: Ahmad Al Shamery is one of Nasrah Al Shamery's seven children.

He was there in Kuwait's international airport last December when a family request for directions descended into a physical altercation with airport officials.

During the scuffle, the officials say Nasrah Al Shamery insulted the Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

The 44-year-old has always denied this but under Kuwaiti law insulting the Prince is an assault.

She was convicted in April and sentenced to two years' jail.

The case went to the appeal court last Thursday and now Ahmad Al Shamery says his mother is leaving jail.

AHMAD AL SHAMERY: They said "mum's free" and in a couple of days she will be here.

KAREN BARLOW: Did you expect this at all?

AHMAD AL SHAMERY: No, to be honest no.

KAREN BARLOW: So your family and the lawyers attempted to appeal but you had little confidence in the system?

AHMAD AL SHAMERY: Yeah.

KAREN BARLOW: At this stage do you have any understanding of how it all turned out? Do you know who actually released her and for what reason they released her?

AHMAD AL SHAMERY: No, no-one knows.

KAREN BARLOW: So it's a bit of a mystery at the moment?

AHMAD AL SHAMERY: Yeah.

KAREN BARLOW: Family friend and lawyer Mark Williams is trying to find out more.

MARK WILLIAMS: She has been released from jail and will be flown home from Kuwait. What I infer from that is that she has probably been deported from that country but they are not quite sure whether the conviction has been overturned or anything like that.

KAREN BARLOW: The joy of imminent return is tempered by a massive legal bill and concern for Nasrah Al Shamery's health.

Ill with diabetes, hearing, heart, breathing and back problems before she went to prison, her health deteriorated further in jail to the point where she couldn't walk.

AHMAD AL SHAMERY: Yeah, like I understand she is like in a wheelchair right now and she is suffering, you know, a few pains but you know that doesn't matter, you know what I mean? As long as, you know we got her back.

KAREN BARLOW: Do you think you have to be careful with her because she has been through this experience?

AHMAD AL SHAMERY: Yeah of course. Yeah we have to look after her.

KAREN BARLOW: Do you think you are ever going to go back to Kuwait?

AHMAD AL SHAMERY: No, no way man, that's it. This is my country. I am going to stay here.

KAREN BARLOW: Mrs Al Shamery is due back in Australia over the weekend.

AHMAD AL SHAMERY: Yeah, I can't wait.

KAREN BARLOW: What are you going to do when you see her?

AHMAD AL SHAMERY: Oh, party! You are invited! (Laughs)

TONY EASTLEY: Ahmad Al Shamery, the son of Nasrah Al Shamery speaking there with Karen Barlow.

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