UAE Seeks Maximum Penalty In Mass ‘Terrorism’ Trial

UAE Seeks Maximum Penalty In Mass ‘Terrorism’ Trial

Emirati authorities will seek the maximum penalty against 84 individuals accused of terrorism, they announced on Sunday in a trial denounced by human rights groups.

The trial has been adjourned until March 7, when the defence will present its case, the official WAM news agency reported, saying the public prosecutor has demanded the “maximum sentence” without elaborating.

Most of the defendants, among them human rights activists and government critics, were previously convicted more than a decade ago on similar charges and had completed or were about to complete their sentences.

The United Arab Emirates has accused the defendants of forming a “terrorist” organisation called the “Committee for Justice and Dignity” with the aim of inciting popular protests and a “violent revolution” in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East.

Public prosecutors concluded their arguments and confirmed that the case was distinct from that in 2012 and “not about re-trying the accused,” reported WAM.

In the previous trial, which was also criticised by rights groups, 69 Emirati opposition figures were convicted for alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood — considered a terrorist organisation by the UAE.

In a statement this month, Amnesty International said the prosecution of the 84 “flagrantly violates the defendants’ fair trial rights and disregards fundamental legal principle by re-trying some defendants for the same charges they were convicted of a decade ago”.

Amnesty said that there had been “multiple gross violations” of the defendants’ right to a fair trial.

“In one case, at a hearing on 11 January, the authorities handed a prosecution witness a piece of paper which they proceeded to read from to answer the judge’s questions. This is a grotesque parody of justice,” said Aya Majzoub, Amnesty’s deputy regional director.

Human Rights Watch has also denounced the trial.

In December, the New York-based group said: “Levelling new charges based on peaceful advocacy over a decade ago seems nothing more than a shameless pretext to keep these men behind bars.”

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