KUWAIT CITY: Controversial sport powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has cleared one hurdle in his attempt to ease the pressures created by Kuwait’s ‘war’ on the rest of the international sporting world.

Kuwait’s appeals court cleared Sheikh Ahmad of charges of insulting the judiciary which had threatened him with a six-month prison term and raised questions about his status as president of the Olympic Council of Asia as well as of the Association of National Olympic Committees; he is also a member of the executive committee of embattled world football federation FIFA.

The court acquitted Sheikh Ahmad of all charges generated by public prosecutors for casting doubt on the integrity of the judiciary, of insulting the public prosecutor and creating an incitement against public order in an interview with local television.

Sheikh Ahmad, a nephew of Kuwaiti ruler Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, denied the charges but is not yet totally in the clear snce the issue must still go to the supreme court.

The case erupted in the weeks after FIFA and the IOC suspended in October Kuwait from all sports activities over alleged government interference in the oil-rich Gulf state’s sport.

The FIFA suspension means Kuwait cannot take part in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and the IOC suspension means that Kuwaiti athletes could be barred from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.

Kuwait’s government has separately filed a lawsuit against Sheikh Ahmad, his brother Sheikh Talal and 13 other officials, over Kuwait’s isolation from international sport. The government is demanding hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

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