x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Five accused of insulting Ruler back in court

Witnesses testify in a closed hearing, as case of five activists charged with insulting the Ruler and threatening national security continues.

ABU DHABI // The case of five activists charged with insulting the Ruler and threatening national security continued yesterday, with further witnesses testifying in a closed hearing.

The judges ruled, however, that two lawyers pursuing a separate, civil case against the activists would be allowed into the next hearing, on Sunday, when the final witness will testify.

They also said they would consider whether to grant other requests to be allowed into that hearing.

After the final witness, the public prosecution will present its case, followed in a later hearing by the defence case.

Ahmed Mansour Ali Abdullah Al Abd Al Shehi, Nasser Ahmed Khalfan bin Gaith, Fahad Salim Mohammed Salim Dalk, Hassan Ali Al Khamis, all Emiratis, and Ahmed Abdul Khaleq Ahmed, who does not carry identification papers, were arrested in April on charges of perpetrating acts that pose threats to state security, undermining the public order, opposing the government system, and insulting the President, the Vice President and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

The lawyers granted access to the hearing next Sunday are Fayza Moussa and Ibrahim Al Tamimi. Mr Al Tamimi represents three private citizens who are pursuing cases against the activists, while Mrs Moussa is representing herself in a similar case.

"The things we did not want people to hear are over," Judge Ahmad Abdulhameed, the head of the judicial panel dealing with the case, told the lawyers after yesterday's hearing.

Judge Ahmad said that a panel would discuss over the next few days whether to allow reporters and others into court on Sunday.

Mr Al Tamimi asked the judge for copies of the records from the hearings so far. The judge refused, saying the lawyers could see but not copy the files. They would, however, be given a chance to present their case in a future hearing, he said.

Mr Al Tamimi, who is acting on three Dh21,000 claims for compensation by citizens who say they were personally insulted by the defendants' alleged remarks, said he might pass up that opportunity.

"How can I represent a case when we did not hear any of the witnesses or know what went on in the case?" he asked. "And how can we in a few days read all the files in court?"

Mr Al Tamimi said one tribe had filed 900 complaints, of which he was pursuing just three. "The money compensation is just symbolic, because we can't file a civil case unless we ask for compensation."

About 150 Emiratis demonstrated outside the court in support of the Government.

All five defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges in the first and second hearings.

hdajani@thenational.ae