UAE jails Emiratis charged with coup plot

03 July 2013

UK-based Amnesty International criticises the trial as unfair

The UAE’s Federal Supreme Court has convicted most of the 94 Emiratis accused of plotting a coup through an organisation with alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a trial that concluded on 2 July, 61 of the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to either seven or 10 years in prison, with another eight citizens sentenced to 15 years in abstentia. Among those convicted were human rights lawyers Mohamed al-Mansoori and Mohamed Abdullah al-Roken.

The court acquitted 26 of the defendants, including 13 women. However, according to the Emirates Center for Human Rights, two of those acquitted have been rearrested by UAE state security. The trial was part of Abu Dhabi’s clampdown on signs of anti-state activism in the wake of the Arab uprisings, which led to the fall of four governments in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

The defendants were accused of building a secret organisation with links to the Muslim Brotherhood that “launched, established and ran an organisation seeking to oppose the basic principles of the UAE system of governance and to seize power”, country’s Attorney-General Salem Saeed Kubaish said in January.

The 94 defendants, all of which pleading not guilty, include lawyers, academics, doctors and other professionals. Several told the court that they had been beaten in custody and feared for their lives. The state denies these accusations. The Ministry of Justice said that the court’s transparency, fairness and independence were upheld with more than 500 observers, including representatives of the media, attending each hearing.

The UK-based Amnesty International criticised the trial as unfair, saying the defendants were denied the right to a fair trial and that independent observers were banned from the courtroom.

Under the ruling, several assets were seized from the defendants, including cash, equity, property and websites.

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