x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Veteran lawyers hail 'free and fair' UAE sedition trial

UAE sedition trial: The 94 accused were guaranteed their rights and the legal system treated them fairly, veteran lawyers said before yesterday's verdicts.

The trial in the State Security Court  was conducted with fairness, clarity and transparency, those who observed it have said. Waleed Abu Hamza / Al Itthad
The trial in the State Security Court was conducted with fairness, clarity and transparency, those who observed it have said. Waleed Abu Hamza / Al Itthad

ABU DHABI // The 94 accused were guaranteed their rights and the legal system treated them fairly, veteran lawyers said before yesterday's verdicts.

From the experience of Judge Falah Al Hajeri to the granting of the right to a fair and public hearing, the trial proceedings were exemplary in process and attention to rule of law, legal experts said.

"First of all, Judge Falah is an expert and dates way back," said Ahmad Al Rasheed, 53, a lawyer with 33 years' experience. "He managed the hearings in a professional manner and gave all sides their right to a defence."

The chief justice often took the public prosecution to task if they did not respond to defendants' requests, or delayed them.

He always addressed the defendants as "my brothers" and promised them time at the end of the hearing to hear their complaints and requests, Mr Al Rasheed said.

"The fact that lawyers were allowed to attend to represent the defendants and present all their documents shows that justice was accomplished and no one can claim any rights were violated," he said. "This trial was no less fair than such trials in any other country."

The laws that governed the case have been in effect for decades and are rooted in French jurisprudence, Mr Al Rasheed said.

"Al Islah members violated certain laws and prosecutors had found evidence of these violations so charges were made accordingly and they were referred to court and faced a fair trial; it is as simple as that.

"The case might be big in size, but ultimately it is normal."

Mr Al Rasheed said the judicial system was independent, and not influenced by government officials. "We have witnessed how justice gives each defendant, no matter his nationality or social class, his right to ultimate defence."

He said that since university days, when he first met Judge Al Hajeri, it was clear that the judge was serious and had a "stubborn personality" about his work.

Dr Al Jaafar Al Touq, 60, who has been practising law for 28 years, also described the trial as "very normal".

"There were charges pressed against certain people, it is normal for them to be referred to court and given the right to a defence.

"All over the world there are political courts, and if someone violates the law they are prosecuted."

While he had not followed the hearings first hand and relied on media reports, Dr Al Touq said that logically speaking the public prosecution would not press charges if they did not have enough evidence.

"Since I started I have seen that the law here is very convenient and transparent and there is no room for anyone to argue against it, and it is completely independent," he said.

"We do not have many political cases here because there is security and stability, but whether there have been such cases in the past or not, legal rights are clear and the law protects everyone.

"The moral of the trial is that all procedures were valid and legal. The case is an internal matter for the country, any society has the right to present a person who has violated the law to court."

hdajani@thenational.ae