Nine on trial for running Al Qaeda cell in the UAE
ABU DHABI // Nine men accused of establishing and running an Al Qaeda terrorist cell went on trial on Monday at the state security department of the Federal Supreme Court.
The men, all of Arab origin, are also accused of recruiting members and raising money for Jabhat Al Nusra, the Islamist militant group fighting the Assad regime in Syria.
One of them, a Tunisian, 33, is accused of creating and operating a website to promote the group, and of recruiting members for it.
A Jordanian, 22, is accused of running another website to spread information about the Al Qaeda cell.
Eight of the accused were in court in Abu Dhabi on Monday, and the other is being tried in his absence. All the men – from Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Tunisia – deny the charges against them.
The accused complained to the judge, Falah Al Hajeri, that they had been ill-treated and detained in solitary confinement for more than nine months.
Another Tunisian, 31, said he had been harassed by prison guards, which had affected him psychologically, and he had needed medical treatment.
Judge Al Hajeri listened to the men’s complaints, and ordered that they be examined by a doctor for any signs of ill-treatment. The judge also asked for the doctor who treated the Tunisian to appear in court.
The public prosecution have asked for the maximum penalty on conviction, which is 25 years in prison and is not subject to appeal.
A representative from the Tunisian embassy attended the opening day of the trial, along with several members of the men’s families.
The court will begin hearing evidence from witnesses and the accused on May 26.
Updated: May 19, 2014 04:00 AM