UAE Seeks Maximum Penalty In Mass ‘Terrorism’ Trial

Emirati authorities will pursue the ultimate sentence against 84 people suspected of terrorism, they revealed on Sunday, in a trial condemned by human rights organizations.

The trial has been postponed until March 7, when the defence will submit its case, according to the official WAM news agency, which also stated that the public prosecutor had requested the “maximum sentence” without providing any other details.

The majority of the defendants, including human rights campaigners and government critics, had previously been convicted on similar crimes over a decade ago and were nearing the conclusion of their terms.

The United Arab Emirates has accused the defendants of organizing a “terrorist” organization called the “Committee for Justice and Dignity” with the goal of encouraging mass protests and a “violent revolution” in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring events in the Middle East.

Public prosecutors ended their arguments and confirmed that the case was separate from the one in 2012 and “not about re-trying the accused,” according to 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, which the UAE considers a terrorist organisation.

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

According to Amnesty, there were “multiple gross violations” of the defendants’ right to a fair trial.

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

Human Rights Watch has also condemned the trial.

In December, the fresh 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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