x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Judge ponders UAE sedition-case riddle

The trial of 94 Emiratis accused of sedition resumed yesterday in the State Security Court with recordings of the accused still in the spotlight, while two witnesses testified in support of several of the men.

The trial of 94 Emiratis accused of sedition resumed yesterday in the State Security Court with recordings of the accused still in the spotlight, while two witnesses testified in support of several of the men.

Judge Falah Al Hajeri began by calling two defendants whose voice samples were matched to recordings in which the group discussed overthrowing the UAE’s leadership.

Prosecutors say the meetings, held over the past three years, were intended to further the group’s aim of destabilising the country.

The evidence showed discussions on topics such as the Arab Spring, investments, and education and jobs, security officials have testified.

One defendant yesterday denied the recording was of his voice, while the other said he could not remember attending the meeting.

The judge also ordered all defendants to be given access to their case files after one said this was yet to happen, despite an earlier order.

The judge said: “This is a riddle that I cannot understand. I gave orders to have the papers delivered to them. If the papers are at the prison, why are the defendants not receiving them? Reach out to the administrators at the prison and provide the defendants with their papers.”

The judge called two witnesses who told the court they worked with some of the men and believed they were innocent. A third man who was called to testify did not appear.

“I know they have goodwill, they are honest and sincere. I have never heard or seen anything that might show they want to harm the country,” one witness said. “All I saw was their eagerness in preserving their country,” said the other witness. “These people love their nation.”

The second witness claimed some of the defendants had done many good deeds for their country, including charity work, teaching the Quran to young men and women, and holding study workshops.

Present at yesterday’s hearing were 73 male defendants, 13 female defendants and 123 relatives, the state news agency Wam reported.

There were also three representatives from the Emirates Human Rights Association and two from the Jurists Association in the UAE.

Judge Al Hajeri also heard from a defendant, A?H, who said he had been ill-treated by police during his arrest and while in jail.

The judge said he would look into the matter.

The case was adjourned to May 7, to hear final submissions from the Public Prosecution. The defendants will then give oral pleas on May 13 and 14, and formal defence submissions will be on May 20 and 21.

aalkhoori@thenational.ae